Colts general manager Ryan Grigson didn’t wait long to make a splash in free agency. The latest acquisition: Former Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. The price tag: $22 million with $11 million guaranteed over 4-years.
There will be skeptics who argue this was too much to pay a 30-year old player who the Browns considered expendable. But is 30 years old really too old? And was $22 million too much to pay?
There are two realities at play here. One, the Colts defense needed help at inside linebacker, and there simply wasn’t enough time to know for sure whether Josh McNary was the answer. And then there is the fact that free agency, by its very nature, is where you find over-priced players.
Or as Bill Polian recently put it, “The best players are not in free agency. They are tagged or signed,” he said. “These essentially are ‘B’ players whose agents are looking for ‘A’ money. That in itself is not the best of buys.”
One potentially saving grace of the contract is that the $11 million in guarantees is reportedly limited to the first two years of the contract, which means the Colts would be free to cut their losses in the event that Jackson gets injured, or just doesn’t live up to expectations after two years.
Ryan Grigson described Jackson as a “team-first guy that has been a very consistent producer on the field. The tempo, energy and determination he plays with are right up there with the best in this league. He brings a welcomed element of experience and natural leadership to our team, and we are excited to add him to the strong nucleus of linebackers we currently have on our roster.”
Jackson made 96 starts over eight seasons in Cleveland. And to those who say he has lost a step, consider that he was the Browns’ leading tackler in 2013, with 139 tackles.
Ultimately, the soundness of the investment will be proven on the field. The contract, as it stands, it offers the Colts a way out after just two years, with minimal cap consequences.