While much of the current Redskins talk involves Brian Orakpo and whether or not he'll return to Washington next season, there's another linebacker who should be receiving air time as it pertains to his potential with the Skins next season, too.
After spending the first seven years of his career in Cleveland, inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was released by the Browns on Wednesday—a move that will save the team a $4 million roster bonus due next month.
Meanwhile, nearly 400 miles east, the Redskins are attempting to shore up a lackluster defense from a season ago, including a desolated linebacker corps following the retirement of London Fletcher and the free agent status of Perry Riley, leaving the unproven Keenan Robinson as the only inside linebacker on the current roster.
For local Redskins fans, Jackson is a familiar name from his stellar collegiate career at Maryland, where he led the Terps defense for four years prior to being drafted in the second round by the Browns in 2006.
Jackson hit the ground running in the NFL, starting 13 games as a rookie and logging nearly 200 tackles in his first two seasons. In 2008, Jackson racked up two sacks, three interceptions and a league-leading 154 tackles before his 2009 campaign was cut short due to a shoulder injury and he was forced to miss all of the 2010 season.
Jackson returned in 2011 to lead the league in tackles yet again, and he hasn't missed a game since.
|D'Qwell Jackson since 2011|
|Pro Football Reference|
More so than just plugging a hole out of dire need, Jackson could be a valuable free-agent pickup for the Redskins this offseason.
From a production standpoint, Jackson's numbers speak for themselves. While the Redskins used to have a tackling machine in Fletcher, that ship sailed years ago and they've needed one ever since. Despite turning 31 in September, Jackson can slide in as a starter in Jim Haslett's 3-4 scheme and not miss a beat.
Although guys like DeAngelo Hall and Barry Cofield serve as leaders on defense, it wouldn't hurt the Redskins to add another respected veteran. During his seven-year career, Jackson has been a valued teammate and captain.
If Perry Riley demands somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million a year, Jackson would be the better option, both financially and possibly production-wise, too. In such a case, you'd let Riley walk, roll with Jackson and hope Keenan Robinson can stay healthy, all while planning to address the inside linebacker position in May's upcoming draft.
Assuming he's willing to play in Washington and can be had for a reasonable price, Jackson would serve as a key free-agent signing for the Redskins, helping to fill a huge void in 2014 and perhaps beyond.