As they look to improve a defense that has struggled for a number of years now, the Washington Redskins need to fortify their inside linebacker position. While the free agent market already figures to feature a number of possibilities, another intriguing name became available on Wednesday when the Cleveland Browns released D’Qwell Jackson.
It didn’t take long for the e-mails and tweets to hit my inbox and timeline: Would/should the Redskins pursue Jackson? So, let’s take a look at this possibility.
The 6-foot, 240-pound Jackson just completed his ninth season and was released partly because the Browns didn’t want to pay him the $4.1 million roster bonus owed to him on March 15. The Browns have plenty of cap room, however, so money can’t be the only reason why he was released.
He was on record late last season saying that he would be surprised if he didn’t remain in Cleveland this year. And then his recent comments to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he wanted to “go somewhere with stability,” would seem to indicate that he didn’t see eye-to-eye with his team’s ever-changing management or coaching staff.
Given the dysfunctionalism we’ve seen from Cleveland in this calendar year alone, it’s hard to fault Jackson, if that’s the case.
Seven teams reportedly have interest in Jackson, but it wasn’t immediately clear if Washington ranked among them. The Redskins have, however, done their research on Jackson, I’m told.
A lot about this move would make sense, though. The Redskins have at least one, and potentially two holes on the interior of their defense with London Fletcher retiring and Perry Riley still unsigned.
New Redskins coach Jay Gruden has familiarity with Jackson, having faced him twice a year while offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Additionally, new Redskins outside linebackers coach Brian Baker held the same position in Cleveland prior to joining Washington this winter and has great familiarity with Jackson both as a player and a person. Jackson also has ties to the area as he – like Baker – played his college ball at Maryland.
Jackson certainly would seem to have quality football left in him. He’s coming off of a season in which he ranked among the league leaders in tackles with 141. He also had seven pass breakups, one interception, 1.5 sacks and one interception.
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of quality inside linebackers on the market with San Diego’s Donald Butler, Arizona’s Karlos Dansby, New England’s Brandon Spikes, Baltimore’s Daryl Smith and the New York Giants’ Jon Beason ranking among them.
Jackson probably ranks behind Butler, Spikes and Dansby on that list, but the gap isn’t significant, and he may come at a slightly more affordable price. Because of his familiarity with Baker, could prove the right fit for the Redskins. Now, he said he wants to go somewhere with stability, and this is a new coaching staff and revamped administration here in Washington, so it’s not clear if Jackson would view this as his ideal situation.
Stay tuned . . .
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.
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