Kareem Jackson

Broncos To Bring Back Kareem Jackson

Kareem Jackson isn’t going anywhere. A deal has been reached for the veteran safety to return to the Broncos, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). It’s a one-year, $5MM contract, a source told Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link).

This isn’t unexpected, as we heard that the door was open for a return not long after the team declined his option and made him a free agent. Jackson signed a three-year, $33MM deal in 2019, and the team saved about $7.1MM in cap space by declining the option on the final year. Now they’ve got their other starting safety spot figured out opposite Justin Simmons, who they just gave a huge extension to.

Jackson started all 16 games for Denver last year, and the long-time vet has now started 153 for his career. The Alabama product was a first-round pick of the Texans all the way back in 2010, and has never played in less than 12 games through 11 pro seasons. He’ll turn 33 in April, but was graded very solidly by Pro Football Focus last year and should still have something left in the tank.

New GM George Paton was aggressive in signing Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby to play corner, so the secondary is pretty well taken care of with fellow corner Bryce Callahan also returning. With Bradley Chubb and Von Miller returning at edge rusher and Vic Fangio coaching, this Denver defense has the chance to be one of the league’s best units.

Paton said just a few days ago about the safety spot “there’s free agency, there’s a lot of safeties on the market, including Kareem, and then we have the draft. There’s also the trade market. The good thing is we don’t play a game for a while. We have a lot of time.

Apparently he didn’t need too much time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Open To Kareem Jackson Return

Kareem Jackson says the door to a Broncos return is “not entirely closed.” And, over the weekend, Broncos GM George Paton echoed those sentiments, as Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets.

With Kareem, we had great conversations with his agent,” Paton said. “We tried to get something done but we couldn’t. We left the door open for Kareem to come back.”

When the two sides couldn’t agree on a restructured deal, the Broncos declined the veteran safety’s option to save $7.1MM in cap space. Jackson, 32, joined the Broncos on a three-year, $33MM deal back in 2019. He quickly became a favorite among teammates and the coaching staff for hard-hitting style. Over the last two years, he started in all 29 of his games for Denver, tallying 160 tackles, 14 passes defended, and three interceptions.

One way or another, the Broncos need to fill the safety spot alongside Justin Simmons. However, it’s likely that Jackson will explore his options before considering a lesser offer from the Broncos. Meanwhile, Paton says he won’t rush the process.

It’s a priority,” Paton said of the position. “It definitely is but we have a long time. There’s free agency, there’s a lot of safeties on the market, including Kareem, and then we have the draft. There’s also the trade market. The good thing is we don’t play a game for a while. We have a lot of time.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Don’t Exercise S Kareem Jackson’s Option

Kareem Jackson is hitting free agency. Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the Broncos will not exercise the option on the veteran safety.

Klis notes that the front office tried to restructure Jackson’s contract before declining the option. Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post tweets that the move will free up $7.1MM in cap space for the Broncos.

Jackson, 32, joined the Broncos on a three-year, $33MM deal back in 2019. The veteran quickly became a favorite among teammates and the coaching staff for his veteran savvy and hard hits. Jackson ultimately started each of his 29 games for the Broncos, compiling 160 tackles, 14 passes defended, and three interceptions.

While the Broncos will surely be seeking a replacement for Jackson, the team has already added to their secondary. The team agreed to terms with cornerback Ronald Darby earlier today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jackson: Watson Interested In Broncos

Kareem Jackson‘s final two Texans seasons overlapped with the start of Deshaun Watson‘s Houston stay. Jackson left for Denver in 2019 and has one season remaining on his contract. He has spoken with his former teammate about his interest in the Broncos as a trade destination.

Watson is interested in Denver as a destination, per Jackson, who told TMZ Sports he has discussed this topic on multiple occasions with the disgruntled quarterback. The Broncos figure to be among the many teams interested in Watson, should the Texans make him available. Watson requested a trade last week, shortly after the Texans hired David Culley as head coach.

Like the Panthers, who are planning to make a push for Watson after being in the mix for Matthew Stafford, the Broncos present an intriguing wide receiver group. But Denver would not be able to put together the kind of draft pick package the Dolphins and Jets could. The Broncos hold the No. 9 overall pick, but the Jets and Dolphins have top-three selections and additional first-rounders this year. The Jets have two first-rounders this year and next. Watson, who has a no-trade clause that will allow him to approve his destination, is also believed to be open to most deals.

New Broncos GM George Paton exchanged offers with the Lions for Stafford, though the longtime Vikings exec balked at including promising young players on his new team in the deal. Those talks did include Drew Lock, however. Watson is certainly a more valuable asset than Stafford, going into his age-26 season on the heels of three Pro Bowls (to Stafford’s one in 12 seasons), so it will be interesting to see how serious the Broncos would be if Watson is made available. Acquiring Watson will require one of the best trade packages in NFL history.

The Broncos have used nine starting quarterbacks in the five seasons since Peyton Manning retired. They used a first-round pick on a passer in 2016 (Paxton Lynch), a second-rounder on Lock in 2019 and have acquired starters via the trade route (Joe Flacco) and free agency (Case Keenum). Before the Broncos signed Keenum in 2018, a few of their Super Bowl holdovers made pitches to Kirk Cousins. The team, which has seen almost all of its Super Bowl 50 cogs depart, remains in search of quarterback stability. Limited by this position, the Broncos ranked 30th in offensive DVOA in 2020.

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Kareem Jackson Tests Positive For COVID-19

Two days after Ezekiel Elliott and at least three other members of the Cowboys and Texans tested positive for COVID-19, a second Broncos player has done so. Safety Kareem Jackson tested positive for the coronavirus, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Jackson’s diagnosis follows Von Miller‘s. The latter tested positive in April. Jackson, 32, was tested Wednesday morning, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

The 10-year NFL veteran began experiencing chills this week, Klis adds. Jackson is not in serious condition and is expected to make a full recovery, Schefter notes. But as the NFL and NFLPA continue to formulate a plan for how the league’s first COVID-19-era training camps will look, players continue to test positive.

Jackson was part of a Denver protest against systemic racism two weeks ago — one featuring several of his Broncos teammates — but the second-year Broncos defender told Klis his doctor informed him that based on the timing of his symptoms he likely contracted the virus this past weekend (Twitter link). Jackson traveled from Denver in recent days, Klis adds.

Miller, Elliott, Jackson and Sean Payton are thus far the most notable NFL figures to test positive for the virus that has infected more than two million Americans and killed more than 119,000. A three-tests-per-week policy has surfaced as a potential course of action this season, but how the league will navigate this virus as its 32 teams — rostering nearly 3,000 players — report to camp has become the obvious central storyline this year.

The Broncos signed Jackson to a three-year, $33MM deal last March and moved the longtime Texans cornerback to safety. He and Justin Simmons emerged as one of the NFL’s best safety tandems last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Suspends Broncos CB Kareem Jackson

On the heels of the Broncos’ blowout loss to the Chiefs, they got some more tough news. Starting cornerback Kareem Jackson has been suspended for the final two games of the season, according to Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link). 

According to Klis, the suspension stems from a September arrest for DUI. With the two-game ban, Jackson will be barred from playing in the team’s final games of 2019 against the Lions and Raiders.

Jackson, 31, joined the Broncos on a three-year, $33MM deal in March with $23MM guaranteed. Pro Football Focus’ No. 14-graded cornerback in 2018, Jackson began the 2018 season at safety for the Texans and fared well there, but was shifted back to corner later in the year.

With the Broncos, he’s started in all 13 of his games while seeing time at different spots in the secondary. His season will end with 71 total tackles, two interceptions (including one against his old friends in Houston), and a forced fumble.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC West Notes: Chargers, Broncos, Chiefs

Now that he’s back with the Chargers, running back Melvin Gordon will instantly vault to the top of the club’s depth chart. “He’s our starter. No doubt,” said head coach Anthony Lynn, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com. “He was our starter for a reason… as soon as Melvin’s ready, he’ll go back. He’ll go back to number one.” Lynn also said backups Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will continue to get work, but Gordon will become the No. 1 back. Meanwhile, Los Angeles received a roster exemption for Gordon, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Gordon’s exemption ends on October 7, so the Chargers don’t technically have to activate him for either Week 4 or 5.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • The Chargers placed left tackle Russell Okung on the non-football injury list prior to the beginning of the regular season, meaning he has to miss at least the first six weeks of the campaign. Lynn says Okung, who is dealing with a pulmonary embolism, could potentially return by Week 7 or 8, but that timeline is unclear, as Albert Breer of The MMQB.com writes. Amid the uncertainty, Trent Scott has taken over as LA’s starter on Philip Rivers‘ blindside, but he’s graded out as a bottom-10 tackle league-wide, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Broncos right tackle Ja’Wuan James is expected to miss two-to-four more weeks while dealing with a knee injury, while cornerback Bryce Callahan is out four-to-six more weeks after undergoing a procedure on his foot, according to Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Meanwhile, defensive back Kareem Jackson is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars because of a foot issue, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. As a result, Denver could potentially be without its top three free agent signings for its Week 4 contest.
  • Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes is eligible for an extension at season’s end, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported earlier this year that the Chiefs signal-caller is likely to land a deal worth more than $200MM. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk examines what’s changed in the months since while looking at just how soon Kansas City could give Mahomes a fresh pact.

AFC Rumors: Harris, Sanders, Ravens, Titans

The Broncos employ three of the top slot cornerbacks in the league, with recent signings Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan joining longtime slot kingpin Chris Harris. Vic Fangio, however, confirmed the Broncos will also use Jackson as a safety, where he lined up in base packages all offseason. The Broncos have not settled on how they’re going to mix and match three corners who do their best work as inside cover men.

We still have some things that we have to figure out as to exactly how we are lining up our secondary, figure out the starters up front of all the positions, and then playing the different packages — the five-DB packages, the six-DB, etc.,” Fangio said, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (subscription required). “I think we have some versatility. We’ve got three good players that have played nickel at a high level in this league, and that is highly unusual.”

Despite his status as one of the NFL’s premier corners, Harris does not have a surefire role yet, Mark Kizsla of the Denver Post notes. The ninth-year player has previously worked as a boundary corner in Broncos base sets before shifting inside in sub-packages, which has keyed the former UDFA’s rise to prominence. Pro Football Focus graded the four-time Pro Bowler as its No. 3 corner last season. Harris has requested to play more outside corner in the past but doesn’t appear to prefer ceding too much time at his top job.

I think I have a different role every week,” Harris said, via Jhabvala. “We’ve got so many guys that are interchangeable, but we’ve got a chance of me playing all outside and then one day of me playing the inside. To me, I think it just looks different with me inside. I’m just a totally different man inside compared to everybody else.”

Here is more from Denver and the latest from other AFC cities:

  • Emmanuel Sanders‘ chances of playing Week 1 seem to be improving. The 10th-year wide receiver will not begin training camp on the Broncos’ active/PUP list, with NFL.com’s James Palmer noting (via Twitter) the team did not place anyone on that list. John Elway said Wednesday that Sanders will begin practicing with the team Thursday, though the 32-year-old wideout cautioned he would not be full-go for a bit. Sanders is attempting to recover from a December Achilles tear.
  • Ravens cornerback/return man Cyrus Jones has been dealing with a non-disclosed health issue, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic notes. Jones missed Baltimore’s offseason program, but it sounds like he will be back in time for the Ravens’ preseason slate. If so, Zreibec expects the former Patriots second-rounder to keep his job as Ravens punt returner. Jones averaged a career-best 14.4 yards per return with Baltimore last season, including a 70-yard touchdown sprint.
  • Kenneth Dixon does not appear to have as strong a chance to keep a roster spot. The fourth-year Ravens running back is behind Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and rookie Justice Hill, and Zreibec is not certain the Ravens will carry four running backs this season. Even if Baltimore does keep four backs, the injury- and suspension-limited Dixon does not appear to be a lock to beat out former Texan Tyler Ervin or second-year UDFA De’Lance Turner.
  • Staying on the running back subject, David Fluellen will likely be the Titans‘ third running back — behind Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. The expectation entering camp is the team will not carry a fourth, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com, making a preseason battle between Jeremy McNichols, Dalyn Dawkins and rookie UDFA Alex Barnes more likely to be for a practice squad slot.

Broncos Rumors: Jackson, Harris, Leary

While the cornerstone Broncos secondary cog remains away from the team, the player that helped (indirectly) create the Chris Harris situation may be slated for a hybrid role. Kareem Jackson has continued to line up at safety during Broncos OTAs, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post notes. Given $11MM AAV in March, Jackson joins Justin Simmons as a first-string safety when the team has used its base formation thus far. However, the longtime Texans cornerback moves into his more familiar role when the Broncos shift to their sub-packages, O’Halloran adds. Jackson spent some of the 2018 offseason at safety and began the regular season there, but once Andre Hal returned after his cancer diagnosis, Jackson was shuttled back to corner.

The Broncos appear to be planning to use Harris and Bryce Callahan as base corners, with Jackson and Simmons on the back line. Denver released four-year safety starter Darian Stewart earlier this year and did not use a draft choice on a safety. Oft-used sub player Will Parks remains behind Jackson and Simmons, however, with Su’a Cravens and Jamal Carter still in the mix. But it is not known yet who Simmons’ sidekick in nickel and dime sets will be.

Shifting to the latest on Harris, here is more from Denver:

  • The ice between Harris and John Elway appears to be thawing. The sides have resumed negotiations, and the All-Pro corner’s $15MM asking price has come down a bit. It appears Harris will be receiving a raise, and Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets the Broncos and their ninth-year corner are discussing what would be a “big” 2019 salary spike. But interestingly, said big raise may just be for this season. Teams normally like to add control in exchange for salary hikes, but at this point, Harris may still be headed toward a contract year and 2020 free agency. The prospective one-year bump centers around the reality that the Broncos need Harris to contend this season, Renck adds.
  • Continuing with the Denver secondary, Simmons is entering his walk year. The 2016 third-round pick became a full-time player for the Broncos in 2017 and was their only defender to play every snap last season (1,078). Simmons is focused on a Broncos extension. “Obviously when it’s all said and done, if I had a choice I would stay here,”Simmons said (via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala, subscription required), “not even a question of looking elsewhere or anything like that.” The Broncos have three starters from the 2016 draft, with Adam Gotsis and Connor McGovern 1.0 also in contract years, but it is not certain any will command lofty salaries. The Broncos’ highest-profile walk-year players are seasoned veterans (Harris, Emmanuel Sanders) rather than rookie-salary cogs on the verge of big money.
  • Ronald Leary has ended both of his Broncos campaigns on IR, last season’s Achilles injury occurring in October. But the veteran guard is set to be back as a starter, after seeing $5MM in 2019 injury guarantees kick in earlier this year. The 30-year-old blocker is on track to begin participating in OTAs next week, Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio tweets. The Broncos have moved Leary back to right guard, where he played in 2017. Leary was not on board with being moved to left guard last year, Marvez adds. Second-round pick Dalton Risner is expected to be Denver’s starting left guard.

West Notes: Seahawks, Chiefs, Broncos

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Seahawks general manager John Schneider indicated Russell Wilson‘s four-year, $140MM extension won’t impact the status of franchise-tagged defensive end Frank Clark, tweets Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Seattle had already accounted for a new Wilson deal when it decided to tag Clark at a one-year rate of $17.128MM. Schneider also admitted the Seahawks haven’t made a decision on offensive tackle Germain Ifedi‘s fifth-year option for 2020, and singled out linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive tackle Jarran Reed as extension candidates (Twitter links via Brady Henderson of ESPN.com and Condotta).

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Wilson received an NFL-record $65MM signing bonus as part of his new Seahawks contract, but he won’t actually collect all that money immediately. He’ll earn $30MM of the bonus this year with the rest deferred until 2020, per Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links), who notes this mechanism is common in most quarterback deals. The deferral won’t affect Wilson’s cap charges, as the $65MM will still be prorated over the next five seasons. Corry adds Wilson received better cash flows on his current extension than on his previous four-year, $87.6MM pact.
  • Authorities have recently removed Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill‘s three-year-old son from Hill and his fiancee’s custody, according to Laura Bauer, Brooke Pryor, and Steve Vockrodt of the Kansas City Star. Hill is under investigation for a pair of incidents involving child abuse, but still showed up for workouts earlier this week. The NFL is expected to allow the investigation to unfold before considering discipline for Hill.
  • Broncos free agent signee Kareem Jackson played safety at Denver’s minicamp this week, reports Mike Klis of 9News. Jackson, who can also play corner, spent time at both positions for the Texans in 2018 before inking a three-year, $33MM deal with the Broncos in March. “[T]here’s more to learn at safety than there is at corner,” said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. “He’s played much more corner in his career, so I wanted him to get more work in this camp – all of his work – at the safety position, to feel comfortable there.”