The Vincent Jackson saga could be nearing an end.
The holdout wide receiver from San Diego Chargers is scheduled to have his hearing in front of an arbitrator at 9 a.m. Thursday to determine whether he must sit out three or six games to start the season. And that ruling, which according to Yahoo Sports!! could come as early as Friday, likely will determine whether Jackson is traded in quick fashion or remains property of the Chargers.
The Vikings, of course, have been one of the primary teams that are rumored to be interested in Jackson. With Sidney Rice expected to miss at least half the season, the 6-foot-5 Jackson is just the type of target Brett Favre would love to have on his side.
We've written about this a few times but it's worth revisiting. Jackson is suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. There is nothing Jackson can do about that suspension. However, Jackson also is subject to a three-game suspension that will follow his initial ban because he is on the Chargers' roster exempt list.
The way the NFL sees it, Jackson must now serve these suspensions consecutively not concurrently. However, the NFLPA argues that if Jackson is traded to another team, such as the Vikings, he shouldn't have to sit out those final three games.
According to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports!!, arbitrator Rosemary Townley will have five working days to make a ruling after hearing the arguments in Manhattan. However, Townley isn't expected to take that long.
A team that has never been identified reportedly was given permission to talk to Jackson's agents and had a deal worked out with him on a one-year contract for $7 million plus incentives on Sept. 4. At that point, which was the day of the final roster cutdowns, Jackson would have had the ability to serve his suspensions concurrently. The only problem was the unknown team and the Chargers could not come to an agreement on compensation.
So what happens if Jackson wins this hearing? Well, we're nearly certain he won't ever be returning to San Diego. There appears to be too much bad blood there.
Jackson, who has had two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, was upset when the Chargers gave him a one-year, $3.28 million tender as a restricted free agent during the offseason. Jackson boycotted the Chargers workouts and the team then exercised its right to lower the offer to $600,000.
The Vikings and Jackson's agents have been very quiet about the wide receiver possibly landing in Minnesota -- no one has said a word about whether the Vikings are the unknown team that nearly obtained him -- but the potential move does make sense.
Favre has said this will be his last season and it's no secret he likes to have a big receiver to throw the ball up to. Of the Vikings' four wide receivers, the tallest right now is 6-foot-2 Greg Camarillo. Percy Harvin is 5-11, Greg Lewis is 6 feet and Bernard Berrian is 6-1.
Asked Wednesday about having a big wide receiver to work with, Favre said: "I don't think any quarterback would sit here and tell you, 'No, I wouldn't like someone like that.' I've played long enough, those guys are hard to come by." (Just to be clear, the question was not about Jackson but just having a tall wide receiver.)
So what could Favre's role be in the pursuit of Jackson? Well, he didn't come back in mid-August so he could stand by and let an opportunity to let a big-play receiver slip away. Andrew Brandt, who used to handle the salary cap for the Green Bay Packers, wrote an outstanding piece for the National Football Post about the Packers' pursuit(s) of Randy Moss and Favre's attempt to play a role in obtaining the former Viking.
Of course, if (we said if) the Vikings are serious about getting Jackson, they are going to have to be able to work a deal with the Chargers. Here's where it could get interesting. Jackson is an elite talent, but he's had off-the-field issues and he will need to be signed to a new contract.
That, however, might be fine with the Vikings. Jackson reportedly was looking for a big payday from the Chargers, reportedly five years, $50 million with $30 million guaranteed. (Jackson's agent, Neil Schwartz, said that was not correct). But a one-year deal with incentives could give the Vikings, Favre and Jackson what they want.
The Vikings would get the type of receiver they lack with Rice out, but they wouldn't have to do a long-term contract and Jackson might move on after the season. The Chargers are likely looking for a couple of draft picks but here's where the sides could get creative.
Let's say the Vikings send a 2011 second-round pick to San Diego. The Chargers might want more but there could be conditions attached to that, such as whether the Vikings do get Jackson signed long term. The Vikings probably would be willing to give up more if Jackson is around in 2011, provided there is an NFL season.
Would the Chargers be willing to accept this type of deal? We might not have to wait much longer before finding out.