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A trade for Vincent Jackson makes sense before season or not at all

Unsigned Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson will miss the first three games of the 2010 season because of a league suspension. When it was confirmed this weekend that he was officially placed on the roster exempt list, we asked the NFL to clarify how this coincided with his suspension.

Here’s what NFL spokesman Dan Masonson told us:

1. Vincent Jackson’s three-game Substance Abuse suspension begins once the final roster reduction takes place [6:00 PM ET on Sept. 4].

2. Jackson is ineligible to report to the club during his suspension.

3. As per the CBA’s restricted free agency provisions, if Jackson reports after his suspension begins on Sept. 4, he will be ineligible to play for an additional three weeks following the date he actually reports. The CBA’s restricted free agency provisions state that once a club has notified a player of its intention to place him on the roster exempt list, the player must remain on that list for three games following the date on which he actually reports to his club.

All right. This essentially means Jackson will miss three or six games if he plays this year, but not in between. If he reports to a team before Sept. 4, he can serve his suspension and use up his three weeks on the roster exempt list at the same time. Otherwise, he can’t start his roster exempt clock until his suspension is over.

This clarification puts even more pressure for the Chargers to trade Jackson by Sept. 4. If he’s not dealt before then, he will have to miss six games this season, lowering his trade value.

If Jackson stays put, he’ll have to report to the Chargers by the eighth week of the season or he’ll lose an accrued year of NFL service.

It’s getting difficult to imagine Jackson playing for the Chargers this year, and it also doesn’t make sense for a trade to happen after the season starts.

If a team like Seattle wants Jackson, they should make the move soon or move on.