In the end, expect Jackson back with Chargers

INDIANAPOLIS — When it’s all said and done, and the franchise-tag deadline arrives March 5, I can’t help but think that wide receiver Vincent Jackson isn’t leaving the Chargers.

Chargers head coach Norv Turner told me the team is considering all of its options with regard to Jackson, who is scheduled to become a free agent.

People close to Jackson tell me they’re convinced that he will ultimately be franchised, despite reports that the team won’t apply the tag. It would cost around $14 million for the Chargers to use the tag for a second straight year on the receiver.

That represents big money, for sure. But tight end Antonio Gates has slowed down some and the Chargers have already lost some receivers over the years. Letting a vertical threat like Jackson walk away would leave a big void.

The Chargers have Super Bowl aspirations and a coaching staff and front office under serious pressure to get back to the playoffs, or face major changes. Ownership has made that pretty clear.

Turner seemed to agree that going year-to-year with Jackson isn’t ideal, and said the team obviously wants to retain him.

“Were talking about all the different options we have and Vincent is an important guy for us and we want to have him back,” Turner said.

A long-term deal would make the most sense if it can be worked out, but general manager A.J. Smith has been hesitant to do that in years past. Perhaps this becomes the year, though sources have said there has not been progress to this point.

“We all agree that it’s been year-to-year and we’d like to avoid that,” Turner said, “so certainly we’re looking to do something long-term.”

Using the franchise tag on Jackson would buy the Chargers a few months to negotiate such a pact. As for the Chargers’ plans for the draft, Turner is focused on the defense.

“Our emphasis is going to be (on) defense and pass rushers,” Turner said. “Getting some guys that can come off the edge would be important for us.”

Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @JasonLaCanfora

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