The retired Vincent Jackson was an underrated receiver for Chargers


Remember when wide receiver Vincent Jackson was a Charger? It was long ago, but we shouldn’t forget how talented he was.

Vincent Jackson officially retired from the NFL.

Jackson was one of my favorite players when he was a member of the San Diego Chargers. His No. 83 jersey is still hanging up in my closet.

Selected by the Chargers in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft, Jackson spent his first seven seasons with the Chargers before joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As a rookie, he didn’t receive much playing time, as he sat behind Keenan McCardell, Eric Parker and Reche Caldwell on the depth chart. He made an impact in his second year after scoring the second-most touchdowns (six) on the team, and he even started all 16 games and finished second on the team in receiving yards (623) the year after. However, it wasn’t until 2008 when the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Jackson became a bonafide No. 1 receiver and Philip Rivers’ favorite target.

In that season, Jackson caught 59 passes for 1,039 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Jackson finished with two 60-plus catch, 1,100-plus yard and nine touchdown seasons (which also included Pro Bowl honors) after that, with an ugly 2010 (contract dispute cost him 10 games) sandwiched between them.

Overall, he had 272 receptions for 4,754 yards and 37 touchdowns as a Charger. He was one of the more underrated receivers during that time because he played on a team that featured LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. But he did play a big part in the Chargers making the playoffs four straight years (2006-09).

Jackson had that rare combination of size and speed and was one of the best deep threats in the game, averaging a career 17.5 yards per catch with the Bolts. Rivers had so much success throwing the deep ball because of Jackson’s elite ability to high point it and outmuscle cornerbacks. I remember when he returned from that lengthy absence in 2010 and scored three touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers. He also had a three-touchdown performance against the Green Bay Packers the following season. Remember the game-winning touchdown he had against the New York Giants in the final minute of the game in the 2009 season? How can you forget..

We remember the good times, but he also had some things we’d like to forget about, including a bone-headed 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for kicking a challenge flag in a playoff loss to the New York Jets in 2009-10, as well as the two DUI charges when he was with the team.

It was tough to see Jackson move on from the Chargers. He signed a five-year, $55.5 million deal with the Buccaneers in 2012 free agency, and he proved to be worth the money. Jackson had three straight 1,000-yard receiving campaigns and started every single game in the span before slowing down the final two years due to injuries and age (he didn’t play for anyone in 2017). Meanwhile, former Chargers general manager A.J. Smith tried to replace Jackson with Robert Meachem, who was given a four-year, $25.9 million deal in 2012. Meachem was released the next year.

Currently, the Chargers are doing quite well at the receiver position. They have one of the best wideouts in the league in Keenan Allen. They also spent their 2017 first-round pick on the big-bodied Mike Williams, who has the “jump ball” skill set that Jackson brought to the table.

That said, I’ll always be one of Jackson’s top fans and wish he stayed with the Bolts.