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Buccaneers considering a Vincent Jackson trade

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could trade their best offensive player, if the compensation is right.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been receiving calls for a possible Vincent Jackson trade, and it looks like the Bucs are seriously considering the possibility of moving their top wide receiver. That is what Ian Rapoport is reporting.

At 1-5 the Bucs are basically done for this season, and getting a solid return on a good but aging player would be a very useful result for the team's future.

Why a trade would make sense

Vincent Jackson is 31 going on 32 years old, and has been slowing down the past couple of seasons. He's still a very good receiver who can consistently make big plays down the field, mostly on contested catches, but his production has been trending downwards. There are reasons for that: a broken wrist, poor quarterback play and no running game to support the receiving threats. But there's some evidence that he's started the slow decline that  happens to every player.

The Bucs could also save some $6 million in cap space if they trade him next week, and that cap space would roll over into next season. Jackson will not come cheap next year with a $12 million price tag in cap space in each of the next two seasons before his contract ends and he hits the free agency market. The Bucs could use that cap space to shore up their team elsewhere, while promoting Mike Evans (a near Vincent Jackson-clone) to the number one position and adding some cheaper receiving help through free agency.

Besides that, the Bucs are short one draft pick after trading for Logan Mankins (which looks like a fairly bad decision now), and could always some use extra draft ammunition.

Why a trade would not make sense

Vincent Jackson may be in a (slow) decline and his price tag may be high, he's also the best player on the Bucs' offense. He's the sort of veteran performer the Bucs don't have anywhere else on this team, and letting him go would deprive Mike Evans of a mentor figure. Trading Jackson won't make the team's offense any better in the short term, and will make it more difficult to evaluate Mike Glennon this year.

The Bucs also don't really need the cap space offered by Jackson's release. Over The Cap projects them to have some $40 million in cap space next year, ranked fourth in the league, and they could easily enlarge that by saying goodbye to highly-paid underperformers like Dashon Goldson, Logan Mankins and Josh McCown. Yes, they'll need some of that cap space to re-sign Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, but that should be very doable even with the team's current numbers

Finally, teams will be hesitant to give up significant compensation for Jackson given his massive contract. Not many teams could afford Jackson's contract over the next couple of years, and even fewer would be willing to give up draft picks for the privilege of paying him that money.

Verdict: Plausible, but not likely.