(CBS/AP) SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Chargers say they will not use the franchise tag this season.
The Chargers tagged wide receiver Vincent Jackson last year. But the franchise designation would have required the team to offer the seven-year veteran a contract at 120 percent of last year's figure. That would have carried a salary-cap figure of about $13.7 million.
Free agency begins March 13.
General manager A.J. Smith says the team would like to keep Jackson "but other teams now will enter the picture."
One of those other teams appears to be the Chicago Bears.
The Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure writes that the Bears "could pursue" Jackson's services while ESPN's John Clayton tweeted that he thinks "the Bears will make a big run at Vincent Jackson."
As CBSSports.com's Ryan Wilson notes, Chicago makes sense as a destination given the Bears' lack of production at the receiver slot last season. Running back Matt Forte was the team's leading receiver last season (52 catches, 490 yards, 1 TD), followed by Johnny Knox (37, 727, 2) and Roy Williams (37, 507, 2).
According to the Union-Tribune,the Buffalo Bills have also been rumored to have interest in Jackson - even though the team just signed Stevie Johnson to a long-term deal."It is believed the Buffalo Bills remain interested in Jackson despite signing Stevie Johnson to a five-year, $36.25 million deal on Monday," writes Kevin Acee. "And, at least theoretically, Jackson was helped when Dwayne Bowe received the franchise tag from the Kansas City Chiefs."
The Chargers also released defensive end Luis Castillo, a 2005 first-round pick who started 79 games. He had 19 sacks and 43 tackles for loss.
Castillo injured his tibia in the 2011 opener and missed the rest of the season.