Kareem Jackson

AFC West Notes: Jackson, Jones, Broncos

J.C. Jackson suffered a ruptured patellar tendon during an Oct. 23 Chargers-Seahawks matchup. While this injury is among the toughest to surmount for an NFLer, the high-priced Bolts cornerback expects to be ready for training camp. Jackson has an appointment with the surgeon who performed his surgery, Dr. Neal El Attrache, this week, ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry notes. The sixth-year cornerback did not participate in the Chargers’ minicamp practices and will be a candidate to begin camp on the team’s active/PUP list. The Chargers could remove him from that list once he is cleared to practice. Only a placement on the reserve/PUP list once 53-man rosters are set would delay Jackson’s 2023 debut.

The Chargers, who gave Jackson a five-year deal worth $82.5MM in 2022, did not draft a cornerback or sign a notable free agent. The team has not re-signed veteran slot defender Bryce Callahan, though Asante Samuel Jr. has experience playing both inside and outside. A Callahan return would provide some insurance for the Bolts, but the 31-year-old cover man remains a free agent. Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • In talks with the Chiefs about a third contract, Chris Jones skipped minicamp and is lobbying to become the NFL’s second-highest-paid defensive tackle behind Aaron Donald. While these negotiations might bring complications — due to Donald’s AAV being $8.2MM north of the current second-highest-paid DT (Jeffery Simmons) — SI.com’s Albert Breer expects it to be finalized before training camp. It does not sound like these are particularly acrimonious negotiations. It will be interesting to see if Jones makes an aggressive push to approach a Donald-level salary, since the Chiefs would be unlikely to franchise-tag him in 2024 because of the 120% rule. The team tagged Jones in 2020, making his 2024 tag price 120% of his 2023 pay. That would give Jones a $33MM-plus cap figure if re-tagged, providing the All-Pro with leverage ahead of his latest platform year.
  • Shifting back to the secondaries in this division, the Broncos did brought back one of their veteran DBs midway through the offseason. Kareem Jackson re-signed for a fifth year in Denver. But the 14th-year pro only secured $153K guaranteed. That opens the door for the Broncos to move on, and 9News’ Mike Klis notes Caden Sterns is making his strongest effort yet to unseat Jackson for the safety gig alongside Justin Simmons. A 2021 fifth-round pick, Sterns has worked as Denver’s top backup safety for two seasons. A season-ending hip injury halted that run last year, and while Sterns entered the offseason as no lock to be ready for training camp, he made it back during Denver’s OTA sessions and participated in minicamp. Simmons and Jackson, 35, have been Denver’s safety starters since 2019.
  • The Chargers also added to their staff recently. They hired Noah Evangelides as a football research analyst, Neil Stratton of Insidetheleague.com tweets. Evangelides most recently served as a Northwestern graduate assistant.

Contract Details: Trubisky, K. Jackson, Texans

Here are a few details on recently-signed contracts/extensions:

  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Steelers): Two-year extension. Signing bonus of $6.92MM. 2023-25 salaries (unguaranteed) of $1.08MM, $4.25MM, and $5MM. 90-man offseason roster bonuses of $1MM in 2024 and 2025. Up to $4.25MM of incentives in 2023. Up to $14.5MM in incentives from 2024-25. Via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Kareem Jackson, S (Broncos): One-year, $2.67MM. Despite a 13-year career as a full-time starter, only guarantee is $152.5K signing bonus. Twitter link via Mike Klis of 9News.com.
  • Byron Cowart, DT (Texans): One-year. $1.08MM salary (veteran minimum). Includes injury waiver for previous back and knee injuries. Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of KPRC2.
  • Neville Hewitt, LB (Texans): One-year. $1.2MM salary. Signing bonus of $300K. Playing time incentives of up to $300K. Per game active roster bonus of up to $200K. Twitter link via Wilson.
  • Greg Little, OT (Texans): One-year. $1.08MM salary (veteran minimum). Signing bonus of $100K. Twitter link via Wilson.
  • Shaq Mason, G (Texans): Three-year, $36MM extension ($22MM guaranteed) on top of one remaining year of club control in 2023. Signing bonus of $10MM. 2023-26 salaries of $1.07MM (guaranteed) $9.25MM (guaranteed), $10MM ($1.05MM guaranteed), and $10.4MM (unguaranteed). Annual per game active roster bonus of up to $500K. Annual Pro Bowl incentive of $250K. $50K workout bonus from 2024-26. Twitter link via Wilson.

Trubisky was already under contract through 2023, and he was due an $8MM salary for the upcoming year. So, as Florio notes, the 28-year-old passer essentially gave the Steelers two more years of club control without any increase in 2023 pay and without securing any guaranteed money in the two tack-on years. It seems that after Pittsburgh unexpectedly re-signed fellow signal-caller Mason Rudolph, Trubisky was worried that he might be released, so in order to lock in the $8MM he was already planning to earn this season, he agreed to a team-friendly extension.

His contract is now due to expire when Kenny Pickett‘s rookie deal expires, so the Steelers will at least have a high-end backup on hand as Pickett seeks to establish himself as Pittsburgh’s franchise QB.

Broncos To Re-Sign S Kareem Jackson

6:04pm: Jackson is set to earn slightly more than his 2022 salary on this deal, with 9News’ Mike Klis indicating the experienced defender will collect $2.67MM on the one-year pact (Twitter link).

3:56pm: Less than two weeks after a reported offer came out, the Broncos have managed to retain Kareem Jackson. The veteran safety is re-signing in Denver on a one-year deal, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link).

This marks the third straight offseason in which Jackson has agreed to a one-year contract with the Broncos, though the cornerback-turned-safety is now set for his fifth season in Denver. After initially giving Jackson a three-year, $33MM deal in 2019, the Broncos have continued to use the veteran alongside Justin Simmons.

The Broncos and Jackson had been in talks for a bit now, and the team extended another offer to the 14th-year veteran recently. Jackson has played for less money in each of the past three seasons, coming back for $5MM in 2021 and $2MM last season. While the Broncos are moving to a third head coach in three years, Sean Payton is signing off on retaining the experienced defender. GM George Paton, who released Jackson from his above-referenced three-year deal in 2021, said in March the team still had the veteran on its radar. Paton has now authorized three Jackson one-year accords.

Although the Broncos first signed Jackson a few weeks after firing Vance Joseph from his HC post, the returning Denver DC has coached the former first-round pick previously. While working under then-Texans DC Wade Phillips from 2011-13, Joseph was the Houston defensive backs coach. Joseph joins Simmons, linebacker Josey Jewell and free agency import Zach Allen as those with experience under Joseph on Denver’s defense. Jackson, 35, and Simmons, 29, form one of the NFL’s longest-tenured safety duos in recent years.

Denver’s defense maintained top-10 form despite Vic Fangio‘s departure last year, and Jackson ended the season as one of its most consistent components. As injuries ransacked the unit throughout the slate, Jackson played 17 games, a team-most 1,139 snaps and finished with a career-high 94 tackles. Pro Football Focus ranked Jackson just outside the top 50 among safeties last season.

A physical presence at corner, Jackson moved to safety full-time when he joined Fangio’s defense in 2019. Among safeties, Simmons and Jackson each rank in the top 11 in solo tackles since joining forces four years ago. Jackson signing on for another year points to the Broncos keeping third-year safety Caden Sterns as their top backup. The primary Jackson or Simmons injury fill-in since arriving as a 2021 fifth-round pick, Sterns is coming off season-ending hip surgery and is not a lock to be ready for training camp.

The Broncos obviously have spent another offseason making sweeping changes, with Payton now in charge. But the team now has all five of its primary DB starters under contract and re-signed linebacker Alex Singleton to continue his partnership with Jewell. Denver’s starting defense has only lost Dre’Mont Jones this offseason, and Allen — who played four years under Joseph in Arizona — is ticketed to replace him, furthering the familiarity on the defensive side.

Broncos Submit Offer To S Kareem Jackson

The Broncos and Kareem Jackson have agreed on three contracts since the 2019 offseason. Each deal commenced later in the year. Although the veteran defensive back is going into his age-35 season, the team remains interested in continuing this partnership.

Denver extended an offer to re-sign Jackson, Mike Klis of 9News reports. The four-year Broncos safety starter, however, appears to be looking for a slightly better proposal. He has yet to re-sign, though Klis adds Jackson has spoken with Sean Payton. This comes after GM George Paton, who signed off on the past two Jackson deals, expressed interest in another accord last month.

While Jackson’s initial Broncos agreement occurred weeks after Vance Joseph‘s firing from his head coach post, the returning Denver DC coached Jackson during his three-year run as Texans DBs coach in the early 2010s. Joseph was in Houston under then-DC Wade Phillips from 2011-13, which covered much of Jackson’s rookie contract. The Broncos still employ Pro Bowler Justin Simmons from their Joseph HC period; bringing back Jackson would supply Joseph with more familiarity as he returns.

Jackson, who turned 35 earlier this month, signed his first Broncos deal early during the 2019 free agency period. After the team cut bait on the three-year, $33MM accord in 2021, the parties regrouped on a one-year, $5MM pact. In April 2022, Jackson re-signed on a one-year deal worth $2MM. This offer likely resembles the 2022 contract.

Working as one of the league’s oldest non-quarterbacks or special-teamers last season, Jackson started all 17 games for another Denver defense that ran into extensive injury trouble. He has made 61 starts as a Bronco and 185 overall. The 2010 first-rounder has made a successful transition from cornerback to safety, with he and Simmons serving as one of the NFL’s longest-tenured back-line duos.

Pro Football Focus ranked Jackson just outside the top 50 at the position last season. The Alabama product finished with a career-high 94 tackles, however, and added two fumble recoveries. Former fifth-round pick Caden Sterns has filled in for Simmons and Jackson as an injury replacement and would seemingly be in line to take over as a full-timer if the Broncos cannot re-sign Jackson. But following Simmons’ return from an early-season thigh injury, Sterns went down with a season-ending hip malady. Sterns is recovering from hip surgery, and Klis adds the third-year defender may not be ready by training camp.

Broncos Sought Second-Round Pick For Courtland Sutton; Jackson, Murray On Radar

Sean Payton did his best to confirm, despite persistent trade rumors, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton would be part of the Broncos’ equation in 2023. The team has long been linked to wanting a first-round pick for Jeudy; its ask on Sutton was (is?) not far off.

Denver wanted a second-round pick in exchange for Sutton, Mike Klis of 9News reports. A former Pro Bowler, Sutton has shown flashes of high-end play. The Broncos’ years-long quarterback issue has held both Jeudy and Sutton back, and the latter is attached to what has become midlevel money at the position. This and the receiver trade market not being what it was in 2022 has generated Sutton buzz.

But Sutton is also four years older than Jeudy; the SMU product is going into his age-28 season. The 6-foot-4 wideout is attached to a $14MM base salary in 2023. Sutton has manageable cap hits, considering the receiver market’s explosion in the months after he signed his $15MM-per-year extension in fall 2021, but that salary is lofty for teams to consider parting with a second-round choice.

The Broncos should not be viewed as dead-set against trading one of their starting wide receivers, though the Browns and Cowboys — each a Jeudy suitor — have moved on. The Patriots and Giants also were in on Jeudy at various points since last year’s trade deadline. Sutton’s market has been quieter, but the Broncos — due to the Payton and Russell Wilson trades — do not pick until the third round. Payton said this component has brought teams to inquire about the team’s top receivers; the new Broncos HC added that he does not view this coming wideout draft class as particularly impressive.

Another player who could be part of Denver’s 2023 offense: Latavius Murray, who figured to remain on the radar due to Payton’s ties with him. Broncos GM George Paton, while expressing that new signing Samaje Perine will be the team’s go-to guy if Javonte Williams (ACL) is not ready to start the season, said (via the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson) the team still likes Murray.

The former Raiders 1,000-yard rusher came in and played effectively for the Broncos, his fifth NFL team. Murray, 33, led the Broncos with 703 rushing yards, even as he arrived just ahead of Week 6. While Kareem Hunt remains available, Murray’s Saints past and undoubtedly lower asking price compared to the former rushing champion opens the door to another Broncos deal.

The Broncos have another 30-something on the radar to stay. Kareem Jackson has signed three Broncos contracts; the team has not ruled out a fourth. Paton added (via Klis) the Broncos have been in contact with the veteran DB’s representatives.

Jackson, who signed a three-year deal worth $33MM in 2019, has been a Denver safety starter over the past four seasons. Next season would be Jackson’s age-35 slate, but he has started 61 games for the Broncos. Jackson did arrive just after Vance Joseph‘s first Denver tenure wrapped, and the team has rookie-contract safety Caden Sterns as a potential option opposite Justin Simmons. But Jackson has signed for less money on each of his most recent deals. He took a pay cut from $5MM to $2MM in 2022.

Broncos Re-Sign S Kareem Jackson

Kareem Jackson will be back in Denver next season. Ryan O’Halloran of The Denver Post reports (via Twitter) that the veteran safety is re-signing with the Broncos. The 33-year-old is inking a one-year deal worth up to $5MM, per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver (on Twitter).

[RELATED: Mutual Interest Between Broncos, Kareem Jackson]

The 2010 first-round pick spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Texans before inking a three-year, $33MM deal with the Broncos in 2019. The Broncos declined his option last offseason, making him an unrestricted free agent, but he ended up reupping with the organization on a one-year, $5MM deal.

In three seasons in Denver, Jackson has started all 44 of his appearances, collecting 248 tackles, four interceptions, and 16 passes defended. He had another 16 interceptions in 132 games with the Texans.

While Broncos GM George Paton believes in 2021 fifth-round pick Caden Sterns, the organization understands that they couldn’t rely on the sophomore as they look to make a playoff run. As Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets, the Broncos believe Jackson has set a high bar on defense, and his leadership and physicality will continue to be relied on throughout the 2022 season.

Latest On Melvin Gordon, Kareem Jackson

Running back Melvin Gordon and safety Kareem Jackson remain two of the top remaining free agents from the 2021 Broncos. Not surprisingly, general manager George Paton recently reiterated his desire to keep both veterans, as noted by Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper

Earlier this month it became known that there was mutual interest between Gordon and the team for a new deal to reached. The 28-year-old has spent the past two seasons in Denver, after five with the Chargers. The one-time Pro Bowler seemed to be on the way out given the emergence of 2021 second rounder Javonte Williams, but Gordon remained productive working in a time-share last season. He recorded 1,131 scrimmage yards and 10 total touchdowns, which is almost identical to his numbers from 2020.

Gordon’s dialogue with the Broncos has made it clear that he understands re-signing with Denver would not involve an every-down role as the undisputed starter. As Denver7’s Troy Renck reports (on Twitter), he is “open to returning and sharing” the workload with Williams, who had a highly efficient rookie campaign. With that said, Renck adds that the Broncos are one of “multiple teams interested” in adding Gordon.

As for Jackson, there has been a similar desire shared between player and club to strike a new deal. The corner-turned-safety will be 34 by the start of the season. The former Texan has already shown a willingness to accommodate a re-worked deal with Denver, as he signed a one-year contract last offseason following his release from a more lucrative pact. The former first rounder has started all 44 of his games as a Bronco, recording 177 tackles and four interceptions.

When asked about negotiations with both players, Paton said, “we’ve spoken to both their agents. It’s ongoing. We’d love to bring everyone back, but we just can’t do it. We’re still talking with those two — really good players”. The Broncos currently have just over $16MM in cap space remaining, so finding the room for at least one should be relatively straightforward. Both of them suiting up for Denver again in 2022 is still a distinct possibility, though.

Mutual Interest Between Broncos, Kareem Jackson

Kareem Jackson started for each of Vic Fangio‘s three Broncos defenses, but the veteran defender is back in free agency. Despite the Broncos changing coaching staffs, Jackson is still on the team’s radar.

GM George Paton said the Broncos are exploring another deal with Jackson, per Denver7’s Troy Renck (on Twitter). The team has spoken with the veteran safety about coming back. Jackson is interested in staying as well (Twitter link). Finances will need to line up, but the parties huddled up last year to reach a revised agreement.

[RELATED: Broncos To Sign CB K’Waun Williams]

The Broncos cut Jackson in 2021 but re-signed him to a reduced rate, shedding the converted cornerback’s three-year, $33MM deal and bringing him back for one year and $5MM. Jackson made 15 starts and tallied 88 tackles in his third Broncos season and third year as a full-time safety.

Jackson’s age may be an issue; he will turn 34 next month. The 2022 season would be the former first-rounder’s 13th in the NFL. But the longtime Texans cornerback has been a key player for the Broncos since relocating in 2019. The Broncos held onto Jackson at the trade deadline despite the veteran having drawn outside interest.

Denver drafted Caden Sterns in the 2021 fifth round and used him frequently as a backup; the Texas product intercepted two passes and added two sacks. Sterns would be an obvious candidate to succeed Jackson alongside Justin Simmons, but the Broncos — having just traded for Russell Wilson — may opt for more certainty with Jackson as they prepare to compete in a loaded AFC West.

Denver Emerging As Premier QB Destination

We wrote a bit earlier today on the Broncos being among multiple AFC teams who “have trade compensation lined up with the Packers,” in relation to quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Well, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Denver has emerged as a prime location for many of the league’s veteran quarterbacks looking for a potential change of scenery.

The Broncos recently hired former Packers’ offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to replace Vic Fangio, who failed to accomplish a winning season in three years with the Broncos. The former Green Bay staffer represents an obvious and strong connection for Rodgers. Should Rodgers decide to move on from the Packers, having a play-caller that he’s familiar with could add some allure to the Mile High City. Another intriguing aspect that could bring a star quarterback to Denver is the addition of former Vikings’ offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak as passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Kubiak just helped Kirk Cousins turn in one of his best seasons in Minnesota.

Hackett and company inherit an impressive roster posed to perform. The defense is comprised of veterans like outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, safety Justin Simmons, defensive end Shelby Harris, and cornerback Ronald Darby. There are a number of free agents that Denver would like to bring back like cornerbacks Bryce Callahan & Kyle Fuller, defensive back Kareem Jackson, inside linebacker Josey Jewell, and outside linebacker Malik Reed. Even if they fail to bring some of those names back, the Broncos saw impressive seasons last year for youngsters like cornerback Patrick Surtain II, linebacker Baron Browning, defensive end Dre’Mont Jones, and safety Caden Sterns. The list of defensive players above may not overwhelm you with stardom, but, together, the Broncos defense ranked third in the league in points allowed and eighth in the league in yards allowed.

In addition to a brand new offense and stacked defense, Denver boasts a nice array of young offensive weapons. An impressive receiving corps is led by veteran 26-year-old Courtland Sutton, young star Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, who has broken out a bit over the past two seasons. The Broncos also have two talented, young receiving tight ends in Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam. Any quarterback looking to join in on the fun would potentially have the benefit of a two-headed rushing attack that was 79 yards short of a combined 2,000-yard rushing season. Running back Javonte Williams enjoyed a healthy dose of carries in his rookie season, and there is mutual interest in bringing back Melvin Gordon.

Rodgers is obviously a name to keep an eye on as the decision on his future in Green Bay looms on the horizon. He has said that he will let the Packers know of his intentions before the franchise tag deadline so they can figure out how to deal with free agent wide receiver Davante Adams. In addition to Rodgers, though, keep an eye out for Denver to make moves on other quarterbacks searching for greener pastures. Russell Wilson has long been rumored to be interested in moving on from Seattle, and Deshaun Watson is still searching for a new home.

Whether Rodgers, Wilson, Watson, or some other under-the-radar name, look for the Broncos to make a move for a star quarterback. If they are able to find the right fit, the move could bring them into contention for what could easily turn into the toughest division in football.

Minor NFL Transactions: 1/5/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears 

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans