By reporting Oct. 29, Jackson will be able to serve a three-game, team-imposed suspension on the roster-exempt list, then play in the final six games to accrue his sixth season toward unrestricted free agency.
Jackson and his agent, Neil Schwartz, said earlier this fall that the receiver likely wouldn't play this season.
"With the landscape of labor uncertainty, we wanted to create, at this point in time, certainty," Schwartz told The Associated Press on Thursday.
"I believe he will do well," Smith said Thursday, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. "He always has been a worker, stays in shape, knows our offense. After a little game-speed adjustment, I would expect him to be a major contributor."
Jackson will be eligible to return to the struggling Chargers for a Nov. 28 game at Indianapolis. Counting the six games he plays and the bye week, he'll earn $240,058 rather than the $3.268 million he would have made had he signed his tender as a restricted free agent before the season.
The Chargers (2-4) could use Jackson sooner than he'll be available. They might be without quarterback Philip Rivers' top two targets, tight end Antonio Gates (toe) and wideout Malcom Floyd (hamstring), because of injuries when they play host Sunday to the New England Patriots. Gates and Floyd missed practice Thursday, as did wide receivers Legedu Naanee (hamstring) and Buster Davis (ribs).
If all four pass-catchers can't play, veteran Patrick Crayton and undrafted rookie Richard Goodman could be the first-team wideouts.
Gates told The Union-Tribune: "The bottom line is we need him. He's a big part of what we've done in the past, and he can help us as we try to get this thing done."
Jackson's original five-year contract expired after last season. But because this is an uncapped year, he would have needed six seasons to become an unrestricted free agent.
Unhappy that they didn't receive long-term deals during the offseason, Jackson and Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill refused to sign their tenders. Because they hadn't signed by June 15, the Chargers were entitled to offer them 110 percent of their 2009 salaries, essentially cutting $2.5 million off the tenders.
McNeill, who also had been placed on the roster-exempt list by Smith, reported to the team Sept. 25. He served his three-game suspension and last week agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $48.5 million, with $24.5 million guaranteed, through 2015.
"Hopefully, (Jackson) is doing good and kind of brings his 'A' game, doesn't take our focus off the game plan week-to-week ...," McNeill said Thursday, according to The Union-Tribune. "We have plenty of talented receivers, but Vincent is probably one of the best in the league in what he does. His athletic ability really brings a whole new level to our offense, spreads the defense out more, let's us run the ball better. I mean, he adds a whole other facet to our offense.
The Chargers' unwillingness to sign Jackson to a long-term deal is believed to stem from the player's off-the-field issues. He was suspended for the season's first three games by the NFL after pleading guilty in February to his second DUI since 2006.
Hours before a playoff loss to the New York Jets last season, Jackson was handcuffed briefly and his car impounded following a traffic stop. Jackson was pulled over near team headquarters for playing loud music, then cited for driving with a suspended license and expired tags.
Last month, while Jackson was still within his three-game DUI suspension, the league and union brokered a deal under which the player could be traded and have six games worth of suspensions reduced to two.
Schwartz said another GM told him that Smith seemed to be "squatting" on Jackson.
Smith didn't return calls seeking comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.