Vincent Jackson could have a new job soon in addition to his usual occupation on Sundays.
He needs to save Josh Freeman’s career.
With Marques Colston secured by the Saints just minutes before free agency began at 4 p.m. ET, Jackson became the best free agent wide receiver available. So like vicious, blood-thirsty animals, the rest of the WR-needy teams quickly circled Jackson, and since they’re armed with a cannon and swords the Buccaneers have either won, or are about to win very soon.
Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Jackson appears to be headed to Tampa and is close to a deal with the Bucs. Meanwhile, NFL Network’s Albert Breer reports that the Chargers have already started the process of moving on, and have contract Laurent Robinson.
Robinson can be purchased for a drastically lower price than Jackson, and if he fulfills the upside he showed last year in Dallas, he’ll also finish 2012 with similar if not better production than the departing Charger.
If and when Jackson’s signing is finalized, he’ll immediately become the key figure in Freeman’s reclamation project. The young quarterback’s passing yardage remained on par with his 2010 total during his painful 2011 season, but his yards per pass attempt dipped significantly (7.3 in 2010, and 6.5 in 2011). He also showed poor decision-making skills and ball placement during his regression after throwing just six interceptions in 2010, and following that up with 22 in 2011.
In fairness, it wasn’t all on Freeman, as his supporting cast regressed right along with him. That particularly applies to sophomore wideout Mike Williams, who developed a chronic drop problem. Those struggles were especially present in the red zone, as Williams’ touchdown total fell from 11 a year ago, to just three this year.
Maybe he was just experiencing the rookie learning curve a year late, and now Williams will thrive with the pressure and attention shifted towards Jackson. Or maybe his rookie year was a mirage.
Either way, Jackson will immediately fill a clear need.
UPDATE: The deal was finalized, with Jackson agreeing to a five-year contract worth $55 million.