The San Francisco 49ers are reportedly interested in signing wide receiver Willie Jackson, who spent the past two years with the Saints, but only if they cannot work out a contract renegotiation deal with current starting receiver J.J. Stokes.
"We have an interest in Willie if we're unable to get things worked out with J.J. Stokes," 49ers general manager Terry Donahue said after meeting with Jackson on Monday and Tuesday of this week. "We're not trying to play games. We've made it publicly clear we'd prefer to have (Stokes) back. Willie knows that."
Stokes' $3.75 million salary is in question and the 49ers would like Stokes to agree to a contract renegotiation that would reduce his cap hit. If Stokes doesn't cooperate the 49ers may release him and sign Jackson.
Jackson's brother, fullback Terry Jackson, is also a member of the 49ers. In the 2000 season when the 49ers and Saints played in the Superdome, the Jackson brothers became the first brothers in over 80 years to score touchdowns as opponents in the same game.
The Saints have not made any public offers to Jackson, who was second on the team with 81 catches for 1046 yards and five touchdowns this past season. Jackson has been an unrestricted free agent all offseason long after his one-year contract expired.
In the 2001 offseason, the Saints waited until after the NFL draft to sign Jackson, who at that time was also an unrestricted free agent. Should the Saints not draft a receiver in the early rounds this Saturday they may go after Jackson in similar fashion.