SAN DIEGO (AP) - Disgruntled Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson signed his contact tender with the stumbling, turnover-prone San Diego Chargers on Friday.
He can't help them during the next three games, though, because of a team-imposed suspension.
By reporting now, he can serve his three games on the roster exempt list - he was placed there in a hardball move by general manager A.J. Smith - and then play in the final six games to accrue his sixth season toward unrestricted free agency. Coming off two straight 1,000-yard seasons, he'll be available beginning with a game at Indianapolis on Nov. 28.
Then again, Jackson and his agent had said at one point that the player wouldn't be in at all this season due to his unhappiness at not getting a long-term deal. Earlier this month, the NFL Players Association recommended that Jackson and New England Patriots restricted free agent Logan Mankins report to their teams in time to gained an accrued season. Unlike Jackson, Mankins wasn't placed on the roster exempt list by the Patriots.
Counting the six games he plays and the bye week, Jackson will earn $240,058 rather than the $3,268,000 he would have made had he signed his tender as a restricted free agent before the season.
Jackson declined to speak with reporters.
In a statement issued by the team, he said: "It feels good to be with my teammates. I've missed football more than you can imagine. Right now I'm just looking forward to being able to practice and get back on the field. My only concern is doing whatever I can to contribute and help the team win. The future will take care of itself."
Smith didn't return calls seeking comment.
Smith has used the roster exempt list three times in an attempt to end contract stalemates. He put left tackle Marcus McNeill on the roster exempt list at the same time as Jackson. Smith used the same tactic on tight end Antonio Gates in 2005. Gates missed the opener, a close loss to the Dallas Cowboys that contributed to the Chargers missing the playoffs that year.
The Chargers (2-5) have lost three straight and committed 18 turnovers this year, one more than all of last season. They've lost 12 fumbles.
"The biggest thing is he makes big plays and he's experienced," coach Norv Turner said about Jackson. "When you look at most of the turnovers that everyone's talking about, they've come from inexperienced players. Vincent's a guy who's produced over the last three years at an awfully high level. Our production is better than it's ever been in terms of yards. We're making too many negative plays. Obviously, that's the turnovers, so I think the experience factor helps there."
Quarterback Philip Rivers was more focused on Sunday's game against Tennessee than on Jackson.
"He can't play Sunday, can he?" Rivers said. "I hope he's able to contribute and pick up where he left off. Other than that, I don't see there being any significance about today."
Jackson's original five-year contract expired after last season. But because this is an uncapped year, he would have needed six seasons to become an unrestricted free agent.
Unhappy over not receiving long-term deals in the offseason, Jackson and McNeill refused to sign their tenders as restricted free agents. Since they hadn't signed by June 15, the Chargers were entitled to offer them 110 percent of their 2009 salaries, essentially cutting $2.5 million off the tenders.
McNeill reported on Sept. 25. He served his three-game suspension and then agreed to a five-year contract extension through 2015 worth $48.5 million, with $24.5 million guaranteed.
San Diego's unwillingness to sign Jackson to a long-term deal is believed to stem from the player's off-field issues. He was suspended for the season's first three games by the NFL after pleading guilty in February to his second DUI since 2006. That suspension was essentially moot since Jackson hadn't reported.
Hours before San Diego's playoff loss against the New York Jets on Jan. 17, Jackson was handcuffed briefly and had his car impounded following a traffic stop. Jackson was pulled over near team headquarters for playing loud music, then cited for driving with a suspended license and expired tags.
He had to catch a ride to the game with Rivers. Jackson drew a 15-yard penalty for kicking the red challenge flag thrown onto the field by Jets coach Rex Ryan, one of three personal fouls called against the Chargers during the embarrassing 17-14 loss.
NOTES: K Nate Kaeding (groin) and LB Larry English (foot) won't play Sunday. WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring) and WR Legedu Naanee (hamstring) did not practice and are doubtful. LB Brandon Siler (foot), K Kris Brown (ankle), WR Craig "Buster" Davis (ribs) and TE Antonio Gates (toe) are questionable. WR Richard Goodman (hand) is probable. ... Turner said the Chargers would have to sign another kicker if they determine by Saturday that Brown will be unavailable. Turner said punter Mike Scifres is not an option.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.