3:16pm: According to Jackson, the Browns tried to restructure his contract, but he wasn’t on board with the proposed figures and wanted to go “somewhere with stability,” tweets Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
2:37pm: The Browns have officially released inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, the team announced today in a press release. Cleveland would have owed Jackson a $4MM roster bonus on March 16 had he remained on the roster, so the team opted instead for the cap savings.
“We had positive discussion with D’Qwell and his agent over the last several days, and we came to the mutual agreement to go in different directions,” GM Ray Farmer said in a statement.
Jackson, 30, has been a starter for the Browns since the club selected him in the second round of the 2006 draft. Despite leading the team in tackles in 2013, Jackson graded poorly as a run defender in Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, ultimately placing 42nd overall out of 55 qualified inside linebackers (subscription required). Still, the Maryland alum had been the Browns’ longtime leader on defense, so the team will have big shoes to fill in the middle of its linebacking corps.
As for the cap implications, Jackson had been in line to earn a modest base salary of less than $4MM for 2014. However, various bonuses would’ve pushed his ’14 cap number up to about $9.43MM. With the release, the Browns will create about $5.23MM in cap savings, reducing Jackson’s cap hit to $4.2MM.
Jackson will now be an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team even before March 11. As PFF notes (via Twitter), he may draw more interest from clubs running a 4-3 defense, since he graded well the last time he played in that system.