Tarvaris Jackson: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent QB

Scott PolacekFeatured Columnist

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson (7) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has been Russell Wilson’s backup in recent years for the Seattle Seahawks, but he could be headed for free agency this offseason.

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Jackson Reportedly 'Expects Strong Market'

Sunday, Feb. 14

Jessamyn McIntyre of 710 ESPN Seattle noted Friday that “sources close to Tarvaris Jackson tell me not to expect any deal before free agency begins. There was a strong market for him last year.”

McIntyre also added Jackson accepted less money before the 2015 campaign ($1.5 million) to return to the Seahawks and confirmed he “expects” a strong market to develop this year.

According to NFL.com, free agency for the 2016 season opens at 4 p.m. ET on March 9.    

Brent Stecker of 710 ESPN Seattle pointed out Jackson could still come back to the Seahawks even if he does eventually test out the free-agency market: "The fact that Jackson will test free agency doesn't rule him out for re-signing with Seattle—it wasn't until June of last year that he and the Seahawks agreed to a contract for 2015—but it certainly creates the possibility that Seattle will have a new backup quarterback situation in 2016."

Stecker cited Over the Cap and recognized Jackson has consistently seen raises in recent seasons for the Seahawks despite his status as a backup ($1.5 million in 2015, $1.25 million in 2014 and $840,000 in 2013).

Jackson started in Seattle in 2011 and played 15 games. He threw for a solid 3,091 yards and 14 touchdowns that year, but he also notched 13 interceptions as the Seahawks stumbled to a 7-9 record. It was the last time Seattle finished with a losing record, thanks largely to the addition of Wilson in the 2012 draft.

Jackson served as Wilson’s backup in recent years, and he threw a combined 20 passes for 188 yards and one touchdown from 2013-15. Those are not exactly inspiring numbers, but Wilson has remained healthy throughout his career (16 games played in each of the last four years) and led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in two of the past three campaigns, which limited Jackson’s opportunities.

Although Wilson has largely been a picture of health, backup quarterbacks are seemingly becoming increasingly more important every year in the injury-riddled NFL. Even the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos likely wouldn’t have landed the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs without eight games and 1,967 passing yards from Peyton Manning backup Brock Osweiler in 2015.

According to ESPN.com, 76 different quarterbacks attempted at least one pass during the 2015 regular season. A number of the most well-known and established signal-callers in the league, including Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger, suffered significant injuries at some point last season, which opened the door for a large amount of backups.

Katie Nolan of Fox Sports even called 2015 the “year of the backup,” and that was all the way back in September.

Additional importance for backup signal-callers is encouraging news for Jackson as he potentially heads to free agency.

He may not have much recent on-field experience under his belt, but he has been in the league since 2006, has 59 games played on his resume and can tuck it down and run if necessary (636 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground in his career).

He also played for a Seattle team that has become one of the league’s most consistent winners in recent seasons and likely picked up some habits and successful tendencies from Wilson and the surrounding talent.

Jackson will not command salary-cap-shaking money as a backup quarterback, but there is a demand in place for emergency signal-callers. Jackson has starting experience in his career and can provide just the insurance so many teams need at the position.