Trade compensation, exemption stall Jackson deal
Wide receiver Vincent Jackson(notes) reached an agreement on a one-year deal with an undisclosed NFL team Saturday night, according to one of his agents Sunday, but the San Diego Chargers were unable to agree to trade compensation with the franchise. That nixed a possible deal that now becomes more complicated because of a roster exemption placed on Jackson by the Chargers last month.
“I don’t know what happened between the team and the Chargers,” agent Neil Schwartz said. “All I can say is that we agreed to terms on a one-year deal and that the Chargers and the other team couldn’t work out a deal.”
With that, the stalemate between Jackson, who has refused to sign the one-year tender San Diego placed on him as a restricted free agent, and the Chargers continues. Jackson, who has told Schwartz he would still play for San Diego if an acceptable contract could be worked out, has not reported to the Chargers since training camp began.
According to a source close to the situation, three teams have thus far gained permission from the Chargers to talk to Jackson about a possible trade. The Seattle Seahawks confirmed last month that they received permission. The St. Louis Rams also are one of the teams granted permission, according to the aforementioned source and a second one familiar with the situation. However, those two sources indicated it’s the third, undisclosed team that reached the agreement Saturday night.
However, after a 6 p.m. ET deadline passed for Jackson to report, any trade gets more complicated. Not only is it a question of what the Chargers want, it’s a question of when Jackson will be available to play because of the roster exemption rule.
According to the NFL, Jackson will not be able to play in the first six games. Under the roster exemption status designated by San Diego, Jackson would have to sit at least the first six games of the season: three because he violated the league’s substance abuse policy (Jackson has two convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol) and the first three should he rejoin the Chargers.
NFL Players Association attorney Richard Berthelsen argues that the roster exempt status applies only to the Chargers and said the union is willing to take the matter to expedited arbitration.
“Our position on this is that the rights of the procedure only apply to that club that gave him the [roster exemption] notice,” Berthelsen said. “If you read that part of the CBA, it clearly says ‘the club.’ If the player is not with ‘the club’ by the second preseason game, he must miss the first game of the season … it does not include a club that he is traded to.”
Chargers spokesman Bill Johnston said the team would maintain its position of not commenting – a position held since the beginning of training camp.
Jackson had hoped to sign a long-term deal or even a one-year deal with San Diego worth more than the one-year, $3.268 million contract he was offered in the offseason. The Chargers reduced the tender to $583,000 in June, essentially sealing Jackson’s future with the team as nonexistent.
Schwartz has described Jackson’s contract demands as being in line with what wideouts such as Brandon Marshall(notes), Roddy White(notes), Lee Evans(notes) and Roy Williams have received. Each of those deals included at least $27 million over the first three years. Marshall’s deal, which was reached in April after he was traded from the Denver Broncos to the Miami Dolphins, was the top of that group at $28.5 million over the first three years of a five-year, $47.5 million contract.
In addition to sorting out the roster exemption issue and contract terms for Jackson, there’s still a matter of compensation for the Chargers. San Diego reportedly wanted first- and third-round picks for Jackson during the offseason. However, the price may have dropped now that it appears obvious Jackson won’t play for the Chargers.
At this point, the worst-case scenario for the Chargers is that Jackson leaves as a free agent next offseason and the team receives a 2012 compensatory draft pick. The highest pick the Chargers could receive is at the end of the third round (No. 97 overall).
This assumes the NFL keeps its compensatory pick program in place under a new collective bargaining agreement, which is expected to be implemented by 2012.