San Diego Chargers General Manager AJ Smith might not like it, but it appears wide receiver Vincent Jackson could be holding out for a while. The 15th of June has come and gone, and with it so did deadline for the big-time wide receiver to sign his contract tender. Unless he agrees to play this season for $2.5 million less than he would have made or the Chargers agree to pay him what he thinks he deserves, Jackson might be out until Week 10.
Smith seems determined not to let this affect his team.“Do I realize it will be more difficult trying to win a championship without key players? Absolutely,” he said in an interview with the
San Diego Union Tribune.“But teams win championships. There’s always the opportunity for someone to step up due to circumstances — injuries or otherwise — and make names for themselves.”
Jackson is the best receiver on that team. His absence will hurt the Chargers if he holds out. Tight end Antonio Gates will get a boost to his already stellar fantasy value (1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns if healthy), but how will the Chargers replace him? A former undrafted receiver is the answer: Malcom Floyd.
Low expectations had been a theme throughout Floyd’s football career. After receiving all-league nods in both football and basketball as a senior at River City High School in Sacramento, Calif., the prospect garnered little attention from big-time Division I schools. With little choice, he ended up in Wyoming. After sitting out his freshman year, Floyd didn’t have many chances to shine playing on a stagnant Cowboys offense throughout college. NFL scouts didn’t look his way on draft day in 2004 either, leaving him as an undrafted free agent. San Diego took a chance and picked him up. He started on the practice squad, and hasn’t stopped working his way up in the five years since. After beginning last season No. 3 on the team’s depth chart, Floyd stepped into the No. 2 role midseason. The Chargers then certified and stamped their confidence in Floyd by releasing veteran wide receiver Chris Chambers. On the final day of the regular season, with the playoffs secure, the Chargers benched Jackson, giving Floyd an opportunity to step up, and he responded with a huge nine-catch, 140-yard day to help lead his team to a 23-20 victory against the Washington Redskins.
With 4.4 40 speed, huge hands and incredible leaping ability, the 6-foot-5 inch Floyd is a serious deep threat. He has big-time play ability and has averaged 17.2 yards per catch over the last two seasons. Don’t forget that Philip Rivers, one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, will be chucking the rock to him. Rivers excels at making the most of big targets. He likes to put the ball high and out of the defender’s reach, which is good news if you are 6-foot-5.
As the team’s secondary receiving option until maybe Week 10, expect Floyd’s receptions to significantly increase from the 45 he put up last year. Seventy to 80 catches looks likely. He’s a high yards per catch guy too, as his 17.2 yards per catch was Top 5 in the NFL last season, but that average is likely to regress as he totes more catches. I’d project about 16.0 yards per catch. His height and other physical tools make him a legit threat in the red zone too. One thousand yards and eight touchdowns is very possible for the sixth-year receiver in the prime of his career. Your league will likely sleep on him on draft day, but don’t do it Rip Van Winkle. Take a flyer on him as a WR3 or WR4 and enjoy the dividends.
2010 projection: 70 receptions, 925 yards, 7 TD