Laying blame in Jackson no-trade game: Looking at you, Vincent

by | CBSSports.com Senior Writer
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Vincent Jackson should be angry, disappointed and looking for someone to blame because after a potential deal with Minnesota fell through Wednesday it looks as if he has as much chance of playing football this season as Vassar College.

So go ahead and rant, Vincent, because you just got hosed. Only make sure you torch the right guys here. I'd start with your advisors, then work my way down to myself because as much as Vincent Jackson and his representatives want to put this one on A.J. Smith and the San Diego Chargers it comes down to one guy.

And that guy is you, Vincent. Greed is a powerful thing, and when Jackson and his advisors dissect what went awry they can start there.

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Basically, their idea of what the wide receiver was worth diverged so much from what others -- including the Chargers -- thought that there was virtually no interest in Jackson. In fact, when I spoke to a general manager a month ago about Jackson he told me there was no way he'd trade for the guy because Jackson's price -- a five-year, $50 million deal, with $30 million guaranteed -- was too steep to consider.

"The money is way too much," he said. "They're asking for more than Brandon Marshall, and there's no way people are interested."

Forget the compensation. The Chargers were willing to deal Jackson for a pair of second-round draft picks -- the price it cost Miami to acquire Marshall -- but there was little serious interest until Minnesota jumped into the fray this week.

In the end, the Vikings were the only club that pushed for the guy, negotiating a one-year, $6 million deal that would have sent him there Wednesday to perk up a slumbering offense.

Only one problem: The Chargers asked for a second and third-round draft pick in return, sources said, and the Vikings said no can-do. I don't blame them. I'd have the same response if I were trying to acquire someone for less than a season.

So the deal went kaput, Jackson stayed with the Chargers and now his agents say it's all the fault of the Bolts and their general manager. Well, pardon me if I disagree. A restricted free agent, Jackson had a chance to sign a one-year, $3.268 million tender this spring and didn't. OK, it's a free country. He has that right. And he exercised it because he thought he was underpaid. Only Smith and the Chargers made it clear they wouldn't budge and that the Chargers wouldn't blink.

So Jackson dared them ... and he lost.

Now, that's supposed to be San Diego's fault? I don't think so. Jackson didn't believe what he was told, so he called out Smith -- challenging him to play a game of cat-and-mouse. Smith complied, and now Vincent Jackson is mad as hell ... which he should be. Only he should be furious with himself because he badly misplayed this hand.

I mean it. Vincent Jackson forgot that he wasn't holding the aces; Smith was. And the game could not go on without Smith's cooperation.

Jackson must have missed the memo, so he kept pushing ... and he failed. Too bad, but that's the risk you take when you challenge Smith and the Chargers. That doesn't make them bad guys. On the contrary, it makes them easy to read. When Smith tells you something, you can bank on it -- and Jackson and his agents didn't do their homework.

Heck, all you had to do was study how Smith handled the 2005 negotiations with tight end Antonio Gates to know you don't bully him or his organization. But Jackson didn't, and now he needs someone to blame. So his agents throw rocks at Smith, calling him "The Lord of no [Super Bowl] Rings," and wonder why he didn't cooperate with them and deal their client to Minnesota.

Well, this just in, guys: A.J. Smith doesn't work for you or Vincent Jackson. He does what he thinks is best for the San Diego Chargers, and what he thought was best was getting two draft picks -- a second and third -- in return for him.

So that scared off Minnesota. Big deal. Smith didn't put Jackson in this corner. Vincent Jackson did. And to think that the Chargers would lower their demands to satisfy an unhappy camper is not only naive and illogical, it's downright stupid.

Yeah, there was some interest in Jackson the past two months, with St. Louis, Washington and Seattle lukewarm trading partners, but in the end only Minnesota was left standing. Washington had bowed out, and the Rams and Seahawks, one NFC source said, exited once the Jets' Braylon Edwards was arrested Tuesday on a DUI charge. In case you missed it, Vincent Jackson is under a three-game suspension for his own DUI arrest.

Anyway, the Vikings tried and failed to land the Pro Bowl wide receiver, and now we're left to wonder why it didn't happen. Well, I'll tell you why: Vincent Jackson overplayed his hand and pushed around the wrong people.

So he lost out. It happens. But let's make sure we get this story straight. This is not about the San Diego Chargers and their general manager putting the screws to Vincent Jackson. This is about Vincent Jackson putting the screws to himself.

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