A.J. Makes Right Move, Keeps V-Jack

The "Vincent Jackson deadline" passed without a deal, all but guaranteeing the Pro Bowl receiver will be forced to follow through on his threat to sit out the season. A.J. Smith has been criticized for his hard-line stance on dealing Jackson, but in this instance, he was clearly in the right.

The Union Tribune reports the asking price for Vincent Jackson is a second-round pick in 2011 and a third-round pick in 2012. No teams were willing to meet that price, so Smith held onto Jackson, likely viewing him more as a commodity than a potential contributor at this point.

The decision was not popular in the Jackson camp. Agent Neil Schwartz even went public with a statement expressing his exasperation.

"We had multiple deals in place," Schwartz said. "It is our understanding from (other GMs) that the Chargers were unreasonable. More than one general manager referred to A.J. as the 'Lord of No Rings.' "

WR Vincent Jackson
Harry How/Getty
It is hard to imagine second- and third-round picks being unreasonable. Last offseason, Brandon Marshall was traded for two second-round picks and Anquan Boldin was moved for a third- and fourth-rounder. San Diego's asking price is right in that range.

Here is what Smith is likely thinking:

Jackson was a homerun pick when the Chargers landed him in the second round of the '05 draft. Even if San Diego recoups that second-round pick in a trade, the odds of being equally successful the next time around are statistically slim.

Also, if Jackson was worth a second-round pick in 2005, he must be worth at least twice that now. He is still just 27 years old and has spent the last five seasons studying under Hall of Famers James Lofton and Charlie Joiner.

It's as if the Chargers bought a fixer-upper, polished it up and decided to flip it. Anyone who knows anything about real estate knows a property always goes for a much higher price when it's being flipped.

So what's Smith's end game?

Smith is unlikely to deal Jackson before the Oct. 19 trading deadline. Jackson will be less valuable then than he is now (because he'll be available for a maximum of seven games, not 12). It is unrealistic to think the offers will improve or Smith's asking price will drop.

This situation likely won't be resolved until the issue of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is settled. If a new agreement decrees that Jackson has enough years to achieve unrestricted status, the Chargers will likely let him walk (rather than using a franchise or transition tag) and collect their compensatory draft pick.

But if there is no new CBA, or if the new deal requires players to accrue six or more seasons of service before reaching unrestricted free agency, this song and dance will be played one more time in 2011.

If that happens, Smith will do just as he's doing now: Sit back and wait for someone to get desperate.

How should A.J. Smith handle this situation? Discuss inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.

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