Like D’Qwell Jackson is doing in the above picture the Cleveland Browns have to look forward to their future, without #52 manning the ILB/MLB position. Today the Browns released Jackson, who was due a large roster bonus, leaving the team without their defensive leader who has been with the team for 8 seasons. Jackson’s play had started to erode over the past few seasons but his leadership and mental characteristics made him an important cog in the ever changing defenses of the Browns. Last year it was Phil Dawson, this year its Jackson. There are not many long term Browns left. There is a chance that after testing the free agent market Jackson finds a return most suitable, but by that time the Browns may have moved on. At this point Joe Thomas, 7 years, and Ahtyba Rubin, 6 years, are the longest standing Browns, and even Rubin could be released this off-season.
The lack of continuity is concerning and should lead to long term deals for Alex Mack and TJ Ward, as well as an extension for Joe Haden. The tide must turn. The Browns shouldn’t lose Ward with Jackson now gone. Both played up the middle and provided veteran leadership. Extending Haden, who would be a free agent, would send the right message to both the players and the fans.
New GM Ray Farmer has added to his cap flexibility over the next two years, adding $5 million to his year’s cap space as well as more money next year. The Browns should be shopping for 1 or 2 starter level free agents at ILB. The draft has a number available as well but Mike Pettine may not want to start 2 young players at such important positions. Different then Joe Banner this is not a decision just based on getting younger but Jackson’s salary and production weren’t matching up. Drafting linebackers can be hit or miss. This writer will continue to stump for Ryan Shazier, especially with the Browns 2nd round pick. Shazier has the coverage and hitting skills to fit perfectly as a ILB in a 3-4.
First Dawson now Jackson, how is this cut similar or different for you then losing Dawson to free agency? Do you like the decision from a football perspective? Do you see this as a poor first choice for Farmer, or him making a good decision even though it is not popular?