D'Qwell Jackson

Colts Cut LB D’Qwell Jackson

The Colts have released linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The team has also confirmed the news via press release.D'Qwell Jackson (vertical)

[RELATED: Robert Turbin Wants To Stay With Colts]

Jackson, 33, has been with the Colts for the last three seasons. He joined the team on a four-year, $22MM contract with the expectation that he would anchor the team’s linebacking core. After a Pro Bowl season in 2014, Jackson started showed signs of decline and his off-the-field missteps haven’t helped matters. In March of last year, he was found guilty of simple assault, stemming from a February 2015 altercation with a delivery driver. Then, in December, he was handed a four-game ban for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs.

The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus have Jackson ranked as just the 80th best linebacker in the league out of 87 qualified players for 2016. By PFF’s numbers, Jackson has actually been playing below-average football for the last four seasons, with his last respectable season coming in 2012. In any case, the Colts are looking to go younger at linebacker and they were unwilling to pay Jackson a $500K roster bonus in March. Had they kept him, he would have carried a $5.75MM cap number for ’17.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts LB D’Qwell Jackson Suspended Four Games

The Colts are losing a starting linebacker for the rest of the regular season. D’Qwell Jackson has been handed a four-game ban for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, according to a team announcement. D'Qwell Jackson (vertical)

Obviously, this is a big blow to the 6-6 Colts as they fight to keep their playoff hopes alive. Now, they will likely move Edwin Jackson into a starting role. The Colts also have ILBs Antonio Morrison and Deon King in reserve.

Jackson has appeared in and started in all 12 of the Colts’ games so far this season. This year, he has 78 total tackles with one sack and two fumble recoveries. He’s doing alright in terms of traditional stats, but the advanced numbers at Pro Football Focus say he’s just the 79th best linebacker in the NFL out of 89 qualified players. In fact, Edwin Jackson is ranked higher at No. 74. For what it’s worth, Morrison and King have weak grades in their limited sample size this season.

This isn’t Jackson’s first misstep. In March, he was found guilty of simple assault, stemming from a February 2015 altercation with a delivery driver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: D. Jackson, Titans, Brees, Draft

Earlier this week, Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was found guilty of simple assault, stemming from a February 2015 altercation with a delivery driver. On Tuesday, Jackson responded to the decision by issuing the following statement, per Mike Berman of CBS4 in Indianapolis (Twitter link):

“I was surprised and disappointed by yesterday’s verdict and we are planning to appeal. I sincerely believe justice will eventually prevail. Nevertheless, I sincerely regret that this case ever happened and has gotten to this point. I will continue to live my life in a way that confirms I am a good and honorable citizen.”

While Jackson seems unlikely to face severe legal penalties, no matter how the case is resolved, the NFL could eventually hand down discipline of its own for the incident.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Word in league circles is that the Titans are still shopping the first overall pick, exploring trade options, a league source tells Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com (Twitter link). If Tennessee does make a deal involving its No. 1 pick, it’s unlikely to be consummated until much closer to draft day.
  • Former agent Joel Corry takes a deep dive into the Drew Brees contract situation in a piece for CBSSports.com, explaining how the Saints could create $10MM in 2016 cap room by signing their star quarterback to an extension through the 2020 season.
  • Albama running back Derrick Henry and Clemson defensive end Kevin Dodd are among the draft prospects set to visit the Panthers, per multiple reports (Twitter links via Tom Pelissero of USA Today and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer). David Newton of ESPN.com explores Henry’s potential fit in Carolina.
  • The Falcons, who are looking to improve their team speed at the linebacker position, have a private workout scheduled with LSU’s Deion Jones on Thursday, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com details.

Extra Points: Rams, M. Bryant, Bills, D. Jackson

Over the weekend, it was reported that the NFLPA had concerns about player contracts with the Rams in light of their move from Missouri to California. That issue, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, has been sorted out.

“The team’s legal move to California coincides with the start of the offseason program on April 18,” Rams executive V.P. of football operations and COO Kevin Demoff said via email. “As such, all contracts are still subject to Missouri law at time of signing. We were able to work with agents on a simple fix saying the contracts will transfer to California law once the team move is official.”

The union was concerned that players would be forced to pay California taxes, which are higher than Missouri taxes, on salaries incurred before the move. Now, it appears that they will be able to save some money on any paychecks processed before April 18th.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NFL:

  • In the wake of Martavis Bryant‘s year-long suspension becoming official on Monday, the Steelers issued a statement (via Steelers PR man Burt Lauten, on Twitter): “We are very disappointed that Martavis Bryant has put himself in this current situation of being suspended by the League. He is at a crossroads of his professional life, and he needs to understand significant changes need to occur in his personal life if he wants to regain his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. We are hopeful that Martavis will take the necessary steps to develop the discipline in his personal life to become a successful player and a good teammate.”
  • The Bills officially announced multiple changes to their defensive coaching staff, including the hiring of a new defensive line coach, John Blake. Buffalo had recently parted ways with 2015’s DL coach, Karl Dunbar.
  • Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was found guilty of simple assault in a court room on Monday, Mike Wells of ESPN.com writes. The case stemmed from a February 2015 altercation with a delivery driver. Jackson could face a maximum of 180 days in jail, and while that seems unlikely, discipline from the NFL is possible once the case wraps up. The linebacker’s sentencing is scheduled to take place on April 6th. The Colts released the following statement on the matter: “We’re disappointed to read reports of D’Qwell Jackson’s misdemeanor verdict in Washington, D.C. We’ve not had an opportunity to review any of the evidence or testimony from the trial and have not made any determination as to any action we might take as a result.”
  • After re-signing with the Bengals last week, offensive tackle Eric Winston will seek a second term as president of the NFL Players Association, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The current expectation is that Winston will run unopposed.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

South Notes: Panthers, Jags, Colts, Freeman

Peyton Manning will face Carolina in Super Bowl 50 next week, but had things gone just a bit differently, Manning could have been a member of the Panthers himself. As Steve Reed of the Associated Press details, the Panthers approached the Colts prior to the 1998 draft in the hopes of trading up the first pick, offering quarterback Kerry Collins and a myriad of draft choices. But Colts general manager Bill Polian wouldn’t hear of it. “There wasn’t anything they could give us that was going to replace Peyton Manning,” Polian said.

As we ponder what could have been, let’s take a look at a few more notes from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • The Jaguars have two open spots remaining on their coaching staff, including defensive line coach, which is now vacant following the promotion of Todd Wash to defensive coordinator. According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Wash will continue serving as defensive line coach for the time being, but general manger Dave Caldwell indicated that could change if a different fit presents itself. Jacksonville also is looking to fill one offensive assistant role.
  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com begins his latest mailbag by tackling the subject of impending free agent linebacker Jerrell Freeman, noting that the 29-year-old might not be a priority for the Colts in free agency. Owner Jim Irsay has noted the club needs to get younger on defense, per Bowen, and with D’Qwell Jackson, Nate Irving, and Sio Moore all in the fold, Freeman could be the odd man out.
  • Speaking of Jackson, the veteran Colts linebacker is being sued for $1.5MM in connection to an assault that occurred in February 15, sources tell Dianna Marie Russini of ESPN (Twitter link). Jackson allegedly broke a bone in a delivery driver’s face.

Extra Points: CFL, Draft, Jackson, Packers

The CFL has been making major waves in the NFL in recent days, as Over The Cap’s Zack Moore writes. Chris Matthews looked like an absolute stud for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl while receiver Duron Carter and lineman Ben Heenan landed deals with the Colts. This isn’t the first time either of those two teams have gone to Canada to find talent and it’s a part of a broader trend in the NFL. The NFL is looking more and more like the CFL with its no huddle offenses, no-back sets, and shorter time between plays, making the CFL the perfect minor league. More from around the NFL..

  • Joel Corry of CBSSports.com ran down some of the key offseason dates between now and the NFL’s Annual Meeting in late March. Some of the dates have league-wide significance while others affect specific player contracts. As Corry notes, February 6th will be a key date for notable names such as Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Rob Gronkowski.
  • West Virginia’s Kevin White has leapfrogged Alabama’s Amari Cooper as the consensus top wide receiver in the 2015 draft, according to Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (video link). Ultimately, though, it’s a talented class and several teams in the top ten could go for receivers. Cooper, White, and Louisville’s DeVante Parker could all go inside of the top ten picks, according to Miller. Still, he doesn’t think that this year’s top trio is quite as talented as last year’s. Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, and Odell Beckham Jr. were the first three receivers taken in 2014, so they have a tough act to follow.
  • Colts inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was arrested Tuesday on a charge of simple assault after an altercation over a parking spot, Stephen Holder of the Indy Star writes. Jackson, considered one of the Colts’ veteran leaders, signed with the Colts last spring after his release from the Browns on a five-year, ~$22MM deal. Jackson is the third Colts player to be arrested in the past month.
  • The Packers have some big decisions to make when it comes to their defensive line, Rob Reischel of the Journal-Sentinel writes. Of course, the arrest of Letroy Guion on Tuesday night only complicates matters for Green Bay.

Colts Sign D’Qwell Jackson

FRIDAY, 10:45am: Jackson’s deal includes a signing bonus of just $1MM, with a guaranteed base salary of $4.5MM in 2014, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today. 2015 includes a $4.63MM roster bonus that will be guaranteed as of next week, as well as an $870K base salary (Twitter links). The modest signing bonus will make it much more manageable for the Colts to get out of the contract in the third or fourth year without carrying much dead money.

THURSDAY, 8:33am: The Colts have reached an agreement to sign free agent linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The team’s owner, Jim Irsay, first teased the deal, tweeting: “We’ve agreed to terms with a new member of our defense…” Because he was released by the Browns last month, Jackson was free to sign with a new team before next Tuesday, when the 2014 free agent period officially begins.

The agreement between the Colts and Jackson will be for four years and $22MM, reports Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports 1 (Twitter link). According to Garafolo, $11MM – or 50% – of the overall value of the contract will be guaranteed, though Pro Football Talk notes (via Twitter) that some of that guarantee may be for injury only.

Jackson, 30, had been expected to decide on his free agent destination by the end of the week, having narrowed his options down to the Colts, Titans, Broncos, and Dolphins. By signing in Indianapolis, Jackson will be reunited with former Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski, who was added to the Colts’ staff as a special assistant last month. Jackson will be slotted in as an inside linebacker in the team’s 3-4 scheme, playing alongside Jerrell Freeman. Pat Angerer and Kelvin Sheppard filled that position for the Colts last season, but Angerer is expected to depart in free agency, and Sheppard appears headed for a reserve role.

2013 wasn’t a particularly strong season for Jackson according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, as he ranked 42nd of 55 qualified inside linebackers. In fact, it’s perhaps a bit of an upset to see the veteran sign with another 3-4 team, since he has historically graded better as the middle linebacker in a 4-3 system. Still, Jackson was a longtime defensive leader in Cleveland, and he racks up tackles, having easily surpassed 100 in each of his healthy NFL seasons since his rookie year. The former 34th overall pick will undoubtedly be an upgrade for a Colts defense in need of improvement.

With Jackson locked up, expect the Colts to turn their free agent focus to wide receivers and defensive lineman, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, who thinks that Arthur Jones of the Ravens would be a “natural fit” (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Jackson, Carlson, Quarless

The agent for D’Qwell Jackson says that his client asked for his release from the Browns and adds that his client is happy to be with the Colts, tweets Jeff Schudel of The News-Herald. Cleveland would have owed Jackson a $4MM roster bonus on March 16th but they cut him loose well in advance. This could be a case of Jackson’s agent trying to put a positive spin on things – it’s more likely that the Browns asked him to take a pay cut that was too steep for his liking.

  • The Jets and Packers are among the clubs with interest in tight end John Carlson, tweets Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports. We learned earlier that Carlson, who was cut loose by the Vikings, is meeting with the Cardinals today.
  • The Packers are talking to tight end Andrew Quarless about a new deal before he hits the open market on Thursday, writes Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel. Of course, there’s also uncertainty surrounding the future of fellow tight end Jermichael Finley this offseason, but bringing back Quarless, who hauled in 32 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns, could give them more certainty at the position.
  • There’s mutual interest between the Bears and linebacker D.J. Williams in working out a new deal, tweets Michael C. Wright of ESPN. The two sides are talking and that’s expected to continue through the weekend. The former University of Miami standout spent his whole career in Denver up until 2013 when he joined Chicago. Unfortunately, his season ended when he ruptured his pectoral tendon against the Giants in Week 6.
  • Brandon Smith got a two-year deal from the Bills, tweets Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. The cornerback was an exclusive rights free agent for Buffalo and accepted his offer earlier today.
  • The Cowboys are interested in TCU prospect Jason Verrett, writes ESPN.com’s Calvin Watkins. The cornerback is a potential late-first round/early-second round pick, despite the fact that he is recovering from a torn labrum. “[The doctors] feel like it’s gonna be a very short process,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “Everybody that’s done it has been able to be back before camp. On the high road, I think that’s what he’s anticipating. That he’ll be back before camp.”
  • Steve Serby of the New York Post is less-than-thrilled about the idea of the Jets signing Michael Vick.
  • Former Jaguars wide receiver Mike-Sims Walker was released by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.

AFC Notes: Brinkley, Cassel, Bailey, Byrd

The Bills are getting an early start on perusing this year’s crop of free agent linebackers. After meeting with Jameel McClain, who was released last week by the Ravens, Buffalo is hosting another free agent LB today, as Jasper Brinkley comes to town, according to Chris Brown of BuffaloBills.com. Brinkley was cut last Friday by the Cardinals.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Matt Cassel, who opted out of his contract with the Vikings, has an old Patriots connection with new Houston head coach Bill O’Brien, and the interest between Cassel and the Texans is mutual and real, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links).
  • Rapoport also hears that before D’Qwell Jackson signed with the Colts, the free agent linebacker turned down more money elsewhere (Twitter link).
  • Veteran defensive back Champ Bailey, who is being released by the Broncos, tells Mike Klis of the Denver Post (Twitter link) that GM John Elway didn’t present a pay cut as an option. “There was no discussions about it,” Bailey said. “It was like, ‘We’re ready to move on.'”
  • The Broncos will look to add a pass rusher this offseason to play opposite Von Miller, and free agency may be a better bet for the club than the draft, according to Klis, who identifies Jared Allen as one possible target.
  • In a Q&A with John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, Bills GM Doug Whaley suggested that not franchising Jairus Byrd earlier this week set up a “more amicable” negotiation with the free agent safety. Said Whaley, in noting that the team franchised Byrd a year ago: “This year we said, ‘For the betterment of the Buffalo Bills, and to show you more or less good faith, we’re not going to use that option to restrict you from hitting the market. Let’s try to go full bore, with both of us focused on trying to get a deal done.'”
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe explains why he thinks it make sense for the Patriots to pass on re-signing prospective free agent Aqib Talib and instead try to trade for Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis.

D’Qwell Jackson Decision Expected This Week

D’Qwell Jackson isn’t the most intriguing name among 2014’s class of free agents, but he’s perhaps the most notable player available before next Tuesday. Because he was released by the Browns last month, Jackson can sign with a new team immediately, and he’s expected to make a decision within the next couple days, a source tells Master Tesfatsion of the Star Tribune.

Jackson has visited with several teams within the last week and has narrowed down his choice to four potential destinations, according to Tesfatsion: The Titans, Broncos, Dolphins, and Colts. The Vikings, Cardinals, and Redskins were among the other clubs said to have interest in the veteran inside linebacker, but they didn’t make the cut for Jackson’s short list.

Jackson had 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, and placed 42nd overall out of 55 qualified inside linebackers (subscription required). Still, the Maryland alum was Cleveland’s longtime defensive leader on defense and is still just 30 years old, so he should have a few more solid seasons left in him.