Vincent Jackson’s future isn’t entirely clear, and we’ve seen a lot of rumors that his playing days might be done. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t convinced, though, as they’ve been talking to him for a possible return this season.
Meanwhile, Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the veteran receiver isn’t retiring yet, despite struggling with injuries and mediocre on-field performance for two seasons.
Veteran WR Vincent Jackson is not retiring, source said. He dealt with an MCL sprain last season. His contract is up.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 3, 2017
Of course, not retiring isn’t quite the same as playing this year. That’ll depend on whether a team is willing to pay him what he wants, and willing to give him the role he wants.
It’s hard to see the Bucs doing that. While they love Jackson, and Jason Licht said he’d be a “Buc for life” whatever happens, they also have to think about the future of their roster. With Mike Evans as the number one receiver, Adam Humphries thriving in the slot, and a likely free agent signing or draftee as the number two, Jackson would have to make do with, at best, a share of the number two role on the outside while mentoring a draftee.
Teams don’t pay a lot of money for a role like that, and veteran Pro Bowl receivers tend not to like settling for part-time possession receiver duties, either. But Jackson hasn’t shown he can be much more than that the past few years, and there’s only so much room on the Bucs’ regular season roster.
So while Jackson isn’t retiring, I’d be surprised if he comes back to play for the Bucs. And if he’s not returning to play for Tampa, where would he go instead? Like Roddy White before him, the signs aren’t pointing toward a prolonged career, even if retirement isn’t official.