Would you give up the careers of James Laurinaitis and Rodger Saffold in a deal, straight-up, for 12 games of any receiver? Would you do it for Vincent Jackson? I ask, because some rumors have AJ Smith's asking price as high as two consecutive second-rounders for the talented receiver -- perhaps more if the receiver signed a long-term deal with his new team.
According to this report by the Post-Dispatch, the Rams were involved in negotiations deeply enough -- and intimately enough with Jackson and his agent -- to have made a contract offer to Jackson. (That should answer any question of how the Rams perceived Jackson's character, the first of three big questions that needed to be answered.)
However, there are conflicting reports about the depth of the Rams' interest. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
St. Louis Rams General Manager Billy Devaney said it was “great” working with Smith, because the Chargers were “up front” about their demands. "We never got really deep into it," Rams G.M. Billy Devaney said of talks about Jackson. "But I thought if you're willing to pay the money for the guy, the draft picks the Chargers were talking about were not unreasonable."-- SignOnSanDiego.com: "No Trade, Jackson Still Stuck"
These quotes are a far cry from those cited by Jackson's agent, Neil Schwartz, who says at least one GM was embittered by the trade negotiations, calling AJ Smith the "Lord of No Rings" in the process. (Of course, take anything an agent says with a truckload of salt.)
And while several have characterized the Vikings' interest in acquiring Jackson to be the most intense, perhaps we shouldn't count the Rams out of the picture yet. For one thing, it's highly likely that AJ Smith set a higher price point for the almost certainly playoff-bound Vikings. After all, it's possible (though not likely) that the playoff-minded Chargers might have to face him in the Super Bowl.
According to sources, Minnesota increased its offer every three days over the past several days, but that offer never rose to what the Chargers were asking for.
For another, though, if the Rams think enough of Jackson's character to make an offer, they might still be in the running despite missing the NFL's incentivized deadline. After all, as PFT's Mike Florio says:
Moving forward, the question becomes whether any team will try to trade for Jackson, now that he'll miss six games instead of four games.
In our view, a team that would be willing to sign him to a long-term deal shouldn't be worried about the two extra games. The Rams, for example, wouldn't need him for this year's playoff run, since there most likely won't be one.
But they could get him now as opposed to competing with other teams on the open market in March. That said, signing him on the open market in March wouldn't require the Rams or anyone else to send draft picks to the Chargers.-- PFT: "Vincent Jackson says Chargers' tactics feel unethical."
Something tells me this isn't over yet...