Prior to this year, D’Qwell Jackson was quite familiar with the rehab room(s) and/or operating table after tearing both of his pectoral muscles over the last two years.
First it was the left one in 2009, and the Browns linebacker missed the final 10 games of the season. Then to even things out he ripped apart the right one during training camp in 2011. The 28-year-old’s durability was questioned after two devastating injuries, but he quickly silenced those doubters by becoming a tackling machine. He was nearly named the Comeback Player of the Year, but instead settled for being September’s player of the month, and finishing second in the league with 158 tackles.
He earned a reward, and today it came in monetary form.
After positive meetings throughout the league’s Scouting Combine, the Browns have re-signed their pending free agent to a five-year contract worth $42.5 million, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Mary Kay Cabot also reports that nearly half of Jackson’s new deal ($19 million) is secured in guarantees and bonuses.
Retaining Jackson was an even greater priority for Cleveland with the lack of a heavy hitter and run stuffer beyond him in their front seven. Ahtyba Rubin was second in tackles on the Browns’ roster this year with 83, followed by Joe Haden with 65. When a cornerback is one of your leading tacklers, that’s bad.
Then there’s the devastating effect Jackson’s departure would have had on a run defense that’s still generally pathetic even when they’re employing one of the league’s best ground defenders. Cleveland ranked 30th against the run after giving up 147.4 yards per game, and allowing 16 carries for 20 yards or more.