Cleveland Browns LB D'Qwell Jackson Puts Job and Money on the Line

J GatskieCorrespondent IJune 9, 2010

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 26:  Marcedes Lewis #89 of the Jacksonville Jaguars is tackled by Alex Hall #96 and D'Quell Jackson #52 of the Cleveland Browns after making a reception in a game at Jacksonville Muncipal Stadium on October 26, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson led the NFL in 2008 with 154 tackles and was seemingly on his way to stardom under Coach Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defense.

Promises were allegedly made by General Manager Phil Savage's front office regarding a long-term contract.

But suddenly everything changed when both Savage and Crennel were fired and replaced by Head Coach Eric Mangini and General Manager George Kokinis.

Mangini hired Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan, who brought with him his patented and unique version of the 3-4 defense.

D'Qwell flourished under Romeo Crennel and needed to prove himself to a new coach and Defensive Coordinator with new schemes and styles.

Jackson seemed to be adapting to the Rob Ryan's complex version of the 3-4 and had a team-leading 57 tackles when his 2009 season was cut short by injury.

Jackson is a restricted free agent and was given a second round tender of $1.759 million. He has until June 15th to sign the tender and then the Browns can reduce the amount to a 10 percent raise of his 2009 salary, which was $640,000.

Ten percent of $640,000 is $64,000 which would put the total salary at $704,000.

"We'll decide on June 15th how we want to proceed,'' said Brian Mackler, Jackson's agent. "We might sign the tender by then and we might not. We're in the process of determining how much D'Qwell will participate between now and Sept. 1."

So far Jackson has missed all of the of the Browns organized team activities and offseason workouts and Mackler recently sounded off to the National Football Post , "It's utterly ridiculous," Mackler said. "I'm tired of excuses. The team made promises of a new deal it has not kept. What they're doing is wrong. That we're even having this conversation about a tender is utterly ridiculous."

Jackson and his agent contend that the former regime promised him a long-term contract.

While Jackson has been holding out, Browns camp goes on and the linebackers continue to work out. Chris Gocong, David Bowens and David Veikune in particular seem to have designs on a starting spot at inside linebacker along with prized free agent acquisition Scott Fujita.

Gocong and Fujita have both been praised in the media by Mangini for their intelligence and versatility during OTAs, and Gocong has been especially impressive as a natural fit in Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan's 3-4.

Last year's second round pick, defensive end David Veikune has been converted to inside linebacker and has been progressing very well according to published transcripts from Coach Mangini's interviews.

Jackson has missed another session of OTAs on June 7-8 and will miss a minicamp from June 10-12. At the rate the Browns are moving along without him, it appears that his leverage declines daily as Bowens and players like Veikune play well at inside linebacker.

Jason Trusnik and Kaluka Maiava can play on the inside also.

If Jackson declines to sign his tender on June 15th, don't be surprised to see the Browns renew him at a number less than his tender but higher than the bargain basement 10% of last year's salary figure.

Jackson's agent has been very vocal in the press and it seems likely Browns President Holmgren and GM Tom Heckert don't like having their business played out in the street.

D'Qwell is a good professional football player who is probably best as a middle linebacker but made a good transition to inside linebacker. He just happens to play on a football team that is knee deep in versatile linebackers and won't be intimidated into handing out multi-year contracts.


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