|Free Agent Snapshot: Vincent Jackson||03.01.12 at 1:06 am ET|
We continue our look at 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason with a breakdown of wide receiver Vincent Jackson. With the understanding that the NFL’s franchise tag window is from now until March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 230 pounds
If he somehow shakes free of the Chargers — that is to say, if San Diego doesn’t franchise him (which is still a serious question between now and the March 5 deadline) — Jackson appears to be the biggest name available among the free agent wide receivers. Big, strong and fast, Jackson has topped 1,000 yards three of the last four seasons, including 60 catches for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns for San Diego last year. (According to Pro Football Focus, his 18.4 yards per catch was fifth in the league for wide receivers who played at least 50 percent of their teams snaps.)
Recent reports indicate that Jackson could be on the Patriots’ short list. In addition, there was plenty of talk about a Jackson-to-New England trade when he was going through his latest contract flap in San Diego in 2010. Jackson is also used to playing with an elite tight end (Antonio Gates), and has been a key part of a high-powered passing game for the last several years.
Jackson has always done well against the Patriots. In last year’s Week 2 matchup, he finished with 10 catches for 172 yards (both season highs) and a pair of touchdowns. In his three career games against New England, he has 19 catches for 359 yards (tops for any opponent he’s faced outside the AFC West) and three touchdowns).
Why it might not work: If the Chargers franchise him, he’ll stick with San Diego for another year. But if he does hit the open market, he’ll likely draw top dollar for free agent wide receivers, which could ultimately leave the Patriots looking elsewhere. It’s going to be a fluid market for wide receivers, and depending on who gets tagged, it could create some market uncertainty for elite receivers like Jackson, Wes Welker, Reggie Wayne, DeSean Jackson, Marques Colton, Dwayne Bowe, Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd, who are all still possibilities to hit the open market.
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