The Denver Broncos could be bidding farewell to several players after Super Bowl 50. The name everyone talks about, justifiably, is quarterback Peyton Manning. The Broncos also have several free agents, many of who would look really nice in the New York Giants' lineup. Today, let's focus on defensive lineman Malik Jackson.
Why Jackson? Well, first a word about Denver linebacker Von Miller. Yes, he can be a free agent and I don't blame anyone for dreaming about the two-time All-Pro joining the Giants. The Broncos didn't, however, build a Super Bowl-caliber team by being stupid. There is about a zero percent chance Miller, in the prime of his career at 26, leaves Denver.
So, let's talk about Jackson. The Broncos recently gave defensive end Derek Wolfe, who plays opposite Jackson, a four-year extension. That could mean they are willing to let Jackson, a 26-year-old four-year veteran, test the market. He is coming off his best season, having started all 16 games for the first time, compiling seven passes defensed, 5.5 sacks and 46 tackles, 34 solos. The 6-foot-4, 293-pound 2012 fifth-round pick has experience playing both inside and outside and has played in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses in Denver. The Giants have a myriad of questions at both defensive tackle and end, and Jackson's versatility could be useful.
Pro Football Focus gave Jackson a grade of 86.1, which puts him at a Pro Bowl level in their grading system. PFF says:
"The pair of Malik Jackson and Derek Wolfe had excellent years in Denver's defensive front, but the likelihood of Jackson returning to the Broncos took a hit when Denver recently gave Wolfe a big extension. Jackson will surely cash in somewhere as a disruptive interior pass rusher, even if it's not with the Broncos. Amongst 3-4 defensive ends, only J.J. Watt, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Fletcher Cox had more total pressure."
Mile High Sports summarized Jackson's contribution to the Denver defense this way:
Jackson was a starter in all 16 games and led all defensive linemen in the league with an impressive seven passes defended/batted. His 34 tackles were tied for eighth on the team and he accounted for Denver's only safety. Jackson was in on 75 percent of the team's defensive snaps this season, a career high by 20 percent according to Pro Football Focus, and he was rated the team's second-best defensive performer by the same site. Only Von Miller was more valuable to the Broncos in 2015 according to the analytics website. Those two are typically on the same side of the line, which should come as no coincidence.
Here is a 2013-14 Jackson highlight video. Notable about this is that he spends most of his time lined up in a 4-3 as both a defensive tackle and a defensive end.
Mile High Sports also estimated that Jackson could be looking at a deal in the four-year, $36 million range with about $17 million guaranteed. That would be more than the five-year, $35 million deal with $13.98 million guaranteed the Giants are paying to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Mile High Sports opines that Jackson's "numbers absolutely justify the investment, as does his character and personality."
Spotrac places Jackson's market value even higher, estimating Jackson could see a five-year deal for about more than $52 million, an average salary of roughly $10.5 million. That would be the equivalent of the five-year, $51.25 million deal ($30.47M guaranteed) that Corey Liuget signed a year ago with the San Diego Chargers. Tyrone Crawford signed a five-year, $45 million contract ($24.675M guaranteed) with the Dallas Cowboys a year ago.
Is he worth that to the Giants? Your thoughts, Giants fans?