Offseason Takes Another Rough Turn

WR Vincent Jackson (Michael Conroy/AP)

An eventful offseason for Vincent Jackson has taken another turn. Jackson, the Chargers' Pro Bowl wide receiver, has been suspended for three games by the NFL for violating its personal-conduct policy. This comes in the wake of Jackson's second conviction for driving under the influence.

Vincent Jackson was already in the news, but again for the wrong reasons as far as the team is concerned.

Jackson, along with left tackle Marcus McNeill, declined to sign their restricted free-agent tender offers last month. That move will cost both men some $2.5 million in 2010 compensation.

But Jackson and McNeill have no plans of playing a full season at a reduced wage. Instead, indications are Jackson and McNeill will be absent through the Chargers' first 10 weeks, coming in late just to accrue a season of playing.

The NFL's punishment assures Jackson of missing at least three games; the penalty could be lessened upon appeal.

Chatter has picked up that the Chargers are actively trying to move Jackson. He would seem to be a valuable piece in which the Chargers could possibly receive what the Broncos did -- two second-round picks -- when trading Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins.

But Jackson, too, comes with baggage.

Not only could be potentially miss nearly a quarter of the season with his suspension, but he is in the market for a rich long-term deal.

His production shows he deserves one. But his decision-making off the field might have some to wonder if he is worth the risk to obtain.

Plus, can Jackson be the same receiver without top-notch quarterback Philip Rivers heaving passes his way?

Fans who know their Chargers' history can't help but be reminded of John Jefferson. He wore No. 83, like Jackson, but was got caught in a contract dispute with the club during the Air Coryell days.

Jefferson was a key part of that aerial assault, then was traded to the Packers and never reached the same production level.

Depending on the team, that same fate could follow Jackson.

But there is no doubt he is talented and motivated. He's never been accused of not working hard.

A possible Jackson trade has drawn interest, it's believed, from the Redskins and Seahawks.

And if the offer is right, hard-nosed general manager A. J. Smith wouldn't hesitate to peddle Jackson.

But now with a suspension to add to his in-limbo status, trade talks could be compromised.


SS Kevin Ellison
Kevin Terrell/Getty
--Are the Chargers headed for a drug scandal?

The team's offices, along with those of the San Diego Padres, were raided by the Drug Enforcement Agency last week.

Some concluded the DEA's focus on the Chargers comes after former safety Kevin Ellison was arrested for possession of 100 Vicodin pills. At the time, Ellison, who started nine games last year for the Chargers, was a member of the team. He has since been released and signed by the Seahawks.

Ellison's agent, Jerome Stanley, said there is no connection between the two incidents.

"Kevin has nothing to do with that," Stanley said. "Whatever happened (Tuesday) is between the Chargers and the DEA."

The Chargers issued a statement after the raid that said Ellison didn't get his pills from their medical staff.

Stanley said that was a cheap shot.

"Now they're trying to make him somewhat responsible for their issue," Stanley said. "It's not our issues at all. It never was."

According to the DEA's statement, the searches were conducted "to verify the correctness of controlled substance inventories, records and reports."

Ellison became expendable after the Chargers drafted Darrell Stuckey, and were impressed with Stuckey's play in the offseason drills.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Rookie RB Ryan Mathews has found a mentor and role model in former Chargers FB Lorenzo Neal. Not only do both share of love for the Chargers, they were stars at Fresno State.

"He's become a mentor in a lot of ways, someone to rely on regarding football or the life that surrounds it," said Mathews, the Chargers' top pick. "I think he respects me, my ability and how I work."

Mathews, and the rest of the Chargers' rookies, will report to camp on July 25.

--The Chargers' first full-squad training camp workout will be July 30.

--QB Philip Rivers is having his inaugural football camp, July 10-11, at UC San Diego. It is open to players ages 7-14.

--ILB Donald Butler absorbed plenty of lessons at the NFL's recent rookie symposium.

"We get some of the veteran guys out here to talk to us, different doctors and people who really care about our well-being and want us to understand that this isn't going to last forever and hopefully give us some information that's going to better us after we play," Butler said. "As a rookie you can't help but like that. It gets a little tedious, but you take it all in and take pointers that you can use to better yourself."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Ryan succeeded at every level; it hasn't been determined if he can make it in the NFL. But I believe he can be great at the professional level, I really do." -- Former Chargers Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal on the potential of Ryan Mathews, the Chargers' heralded rookie running back.



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