Jackson In, Naanee Out, Floyd in Limbo

WR Vincent Jackson (Getty)

We're pretty sure pigs didn't take flight and we know for certain it's not snowing in San Diego. But something nearly as unlikely has happened: the Chargers and Vincent Jackson could be together again.

Vincent Jackson, the team's Pro Bowl wide receiver, was designated as the team's franchise player. That such a tag is being put on a player the Chargers had an epic stare down with last season is interesting.

The Chargers wouldn't budge on their $3 million tender last year and Jackson stiff-armed the organization by not being eligible until the final six games of the season.

The war of words leading up to Jackson's arrival between the parties was pretty strong, especially with one of Jackson's agents referring to Chargers general manager A.J. Smith as "The Lord of no Rings."

Jackson, who had a three-touchdown game in his brief appearance last season, appears headed back to the team. He will receive a contract north of $10 million if no other teams lure him away or the Chargers don't swing a sign-and-trade deal.

Jackson is tagged as a non-exclusive franchise player, meaning if another team signs him the Chargers would receive two first-round draft picks.

But it appears, for now, the Chargers are just getting their ducks in order in case there is a 2011 season and if there is a franchise tag available in the new collective bargaining agreement.

For now, two sides that seldom agree are pulling on the same rope.

"Our first order of business in planning for 2011 was placing the franchise tag on Vincent," Smith said. "Our intentions are to have him playing for us this season.

"We'll continue to monitor the situation moving forward, including how it relates to the franchise tag. We had the option to put a tag on him now, and we registered it."

Jackson can't be pleased by the developments, on a compensation side at least.

Instead of a long-term contract that would bring a huge up-front guarantee, he gets a flat one-year rate. While it is still a considerable amount and few anticipate Jackson refusing to sign it, as he did his restricted free-agent tender, he may not be a happy camper.

In fact his agents declined to comment of the Chargers' maneuver.

As far as playing with his Chargers' teammates, Jackson has to be pleased. With Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers' main downfield target, the two have become among the most potent tandems in the NFL.

But Jackson painted himself into a corner with two driving under the influences charges and being detained by police on the morning of the Chargers' last playoff game for various infractions. Pointing to his off-the-field transgressions, the Chargers said they weren't eager to give Jackson a long-term deal.

That brought last year's one-year tender offer of $3.2 million, something that Jackson refused to sign until the latest point possible and after it had been reduced.

Jackson, it must be noted, hasn't landed on any police reports or been known to get in any trouble in the last 13 months. Maybe that would lead the Chargers to consider a multi-year pact. Then again, maybe not.

"I have no idea what the future holds in terms of his being here long term," Smith said. "We'll evaluate that at the end of the year."

Unlike last season, it appears the Chargers will at least have Jackson at the beginning of the year.

PLAYER/PERSONNEL NOTES


WR Legedu Naanee
Gregory Bull/AP
--WR Legedu Naanee was arrested and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest last week in Indianapolis. According to police, the impending free agent crossed into a crime scene at approximately 3:20 a.m. and refused to leave despite repeated requests. Arresting officer Keith Albert wrote in a police report that Naanee emanated a strong odor of alcoholic beverage and had glossy eyes while refusing to cooperate with police, who were trying to usher him from the crime scene. Police said Naanee continually asked officers, "Why are you being an (expletive)?" while refusing to comply with their request. Naanee was then informed that he was being arrested, and he resisted yet again. Albert said he used pepper spray on Naanee, who continued to pull away from police. Albert delivered two knee strikes to Naanee's right side. Naanee was then taken to a nearby medic's station for examination while in handcuffs. While being taken to a police car, according to Albert's report, Naanee exclaimed, "Do you know who I am? I'm an NFL player, and I'm going to sue your ass." Buddy Baker, Naanee's agent, who police believe was at the scene, hasn't been available for comment.

--After throwing for a career-high 4,710 yards, Philip Rivers got to play in his first Pro Bowl. While he was on the losing end, he enjoyed his time spent with his peers. "You compete against these guys and you obviously are playing within a three-and-a-half hour window and you often don't have a chance to really get to know them," he said. "So I think having a chance to get to know some of your competitors and kind of what motivates them, some things you can take from their game and the way they work, that was what I appreciated the most."

--Former Chargers great Paul Lowe went into the San Diego Hall of Champions last week. Lowe, a stellar running back and a member of the All-AFL team, had left football after being cut by the 49ers."I went to work for Carte Blanche credit cards, in the mailroom, which was owned by Barron Hilton," Lowe said of one of the Los Angeles Chargers' owners. "One day Frank Leahy, the general manager of the Chargers, came to me and said they were putting a team together and asked if I was interested." Lowe did the rest.

--The Chargers signed RB Frank Summers. Summers was cut at the end of the Steelers' training camp last season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I certainly appreciate fans that are going to hang in there and keep pulling for us because that's what we need. We're going to get it done and I'm excited about this coming season." - QB Philip Rivers on a conference call with Chargers season-ticket holders.

OFFSEASON STRATEGY

Wide receiver Vincent Jackson is among the Chargers' most celebrated free agents and it appears he is returning after the team used the franchise tag on him.

Jackson is the most important free agent on the offensive side although other key parts remain to be addressed in wide receiver Malcom Floyd and right tackle Jeromey Clary.

But there's still much work to be done on the opposite side of the ball. The NFL's top defense - in yards allowed - has key players up for new deals in free safety Eric Weddle and inside linebacker Kevin Burnett.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Outside linebacker: The Chargers had that top defense but there weren't many difference-makers on the unit - hence, few turnovers. If the Chargers don't think Larry English can provide a boost off the edge - he's yet to do so in two years - the Chargers might look for another pass rusher.

2. Defensive end: The Chargers' starting pair, Luis Castillo and Jacques Cesaire, are decent. But is that good enough? The Chargers don't think so and could be looking to upgrade here. There are also depth concerns here; look for the Chargers to beef up this spot.

3. Inside linebacker: Two key players are free agents here, Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett, and it's not clear if both - or either - will be brought back. Cooper could be showing the wear and tear; Burnett might ask for too much cash.

4. Right tackle: Jeromey Clary has been a whipping post of sorts for Chargers fans, as they see every one of his errors but don't notice when he plays well. Clary is a free agent, but figures not to be too high priced. But if so, and the Chargers can upgrade, they could look in another direction.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.



Which receivers will stick around in 2011? Discuss inside the message boards.




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