In a surprising move to some, the Cleveland Browns cut long-time linebacker D’Qwell Jackson allowing them to get a bit younger and free up some cap space. The 8-year veteran had plenty of potential suitors, visiting the Titans, Broncos, Dolphins and Colts. Luckily for Indianapolis, the former Brown had a great relationship with recent hire, Rob Chudzinski.
The Colts signed the ILB to a 4-year deal worth $22 million, including $11 million guaranteed. What does this mean for D’Qwell Jackson’s IDP potential in 2014?
Jackson has been considered one of the elite IDPs at the linebacker position after injuries cut short his 2009 season and prematurely ended his 2010 season before it even started. From 2006-2008, Jackson averaged around 116 tackles per season, including 154 in 2008. Up until his consecutive triceps injuries, he compiled just over a 2:1 solo-to-assist tackle ratio.
In 2009, he was on pace for a monster IDP season. Through six games, he compiled 59 tackles and was on pace for close to 160 tackles on a near 4:1 solo/assist ratio.
After missing the entire 2010 season, Jackson returned to play the entire 2011 season and appeared in just under 1,100 snaps (1,096). According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out positively overall and compiled a career-high 158 tackles, an elite 14% tackle rate and finished at the top of the LB scoring in most IDP formats. Heading into 2012, even with a defensive scheme change, IDP leaguers chose him as one of the top overall IDPs. However, his play dipped as did his tackle rate (10.2%) but he still finished with 118 tackles and added 3.5 sacks.
Heading into 2013, with the tackle decline, his solo/assist ratio also dipped as for every solo, he was credited with an assist. That trend continued into 2014, as he produced a near 1:1 ratio on the way to 141 tackles and, though he increased his tackle rate to 14%, his solo tackle rate was barely 6%.
Jackson is an upgrade over the recent Colts linebackers, especially
Angerer has been an injury liability and it’s assumed that he’ll hit free agency. Jackson has proven to be durable since his 2010 season, appearing in 48 games playing 3,410 defensive snaps. On the surface,
seems to be the most affected by the signing.
In just two seasons, Freeman has become an IDP favorite, producing back-to-back seasons of 125+ tackles and a 13.2% tackle rate. He has produced a near 2:1 solo/assist ratio and, because of familiarity with the system, there’s no reason to expect any sharp decline in numbers.
Jackson and Freeman are both three-down linebackers and opposing teams will look to take advantage of their suspect run defense. Expect a competition for tackles, however, Jackson has lost a step and was behind in most plays this past season and can’t get through the offensive lines like he once was able to. Both offer plenty of IDP value heading into 2014, however, I’d trust Jackson as more of an LB3 heading into the 2014 season with his signing in Indianapolis.