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Pro Bowl linebacker Rickey Jackson has been happy playing for

December 29, 1993

NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Pro Bowl linebacker Rickey Jackson has been happy playing for the New Orleans Saints. He hasn’t been happy dealing with them, however. Now, he says, it’s time to stop doing both.

″There are some teams that want a good veteran player like me, and I’m going to find them,″ Jackson said. ″This is the only team I ever wanted to play for, but I’m not going to sit around and beg them to keep me. I guess it’s time to move on.″

Jackson, whose contract expires Feb. 18, was named Tuesday to his second straight Pro Bowl - his sixth in 13 seasons.

″I tried to get a new contract with the Saints,″ Jackson said. ″They didn’t want to do that.″

Jackson was told in the fall the Saints would discuss his contract after the season, vice president Jim Miller said.

Jackson, 35, tried to reach a one-year, $2 million deal with the Saints, however. The proposal included $1.3 million in salary, the same base as this season, and $700,000 to be paid this year so it would not count against next year’s salary cap.

The deal was rejected by the Saints who told him again that they were not interested in talking contracts until after the season.

The Saints refused to negotiate contracts early to avoid the salary cap and Miller said that means they will face severe limitations in making new deals.

Jackson’s proposal would raise the team’s salaries considerably, Miller said.

″I think that’s a hell of a lot more than he’s getting this year. It’s substantially more than he’s getting,″ Miller said.

Saints officials will sit down after the season and evaluate the players they feel can help the team next season and long term, then make an effort to sign them, Miller said. Will Jackson be one of those players?

″I don’t know yet, we’ll determine that after the season,″ Miller said.

Not if Jackson sticks to his plans, however.

″It’s not money anymore,″ Jackson said. ″It’s respect. Even if they came up with more money, it seems like they don’t want me anymore. I’ve been with this team heart and soul, but I don’t think they care. We’re at the end of the season and Coach (Jim) Mora hasn’t told me if he wants me back next year.″

Jackson, a No. 2 pick by New Orleans in 1981, has 73 tackles, is second on the team with 10.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries this season.

Jackson is second in the NFL in career-fumble recoveries with 26.

″I know I can still play but I’m not going to bet the Saints to let me play for them,″ Jackson said.

Under free agency Jackson has the right to deal with any team he wants. Miller doesn’t expect him to rule the Saints out, however.

″I’m not worried about anything any player says,″ Miller said. ″At this point, I hope and expect to have Rickey playing for us next year.″

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