The Broncos know they have to stop the Chiefs’ aerial attack twice per season. Signing a quality defensive back like Kareem Jackson should help with that.
John Elway is smart enough to know that he needs to stock his Broncos with lots of quality defensive backs if they want to knock off the Chiefs next season. Signing Kareem Jackson won’t be enough to make Denver’s defense elite, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Jackson’s versatility should be a particularly big boost for Vic Fangio’s defense. He began his career as a cornerback, but he played predominantly at safety for the Texans in 2018. His ability to toggle back and forth between both positions should give the Broncos lots of options on defense.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that Jackson will sign a three-year contract with the Broncos worth a maximum of $33 million. Perhaps more importantly for Jackson, $23 million of the deal is guaranteed. That’s a healthy contract for a 30-year-old safety. For the moment, this deal will make Jackson the fifth highest paid safety in the NFL. Of course, that could change drastically given the other safeties still available via free agency.
It’s a good sign for the Broncos that Texans fans seem to be upset about losing Jackson. Then again, Houston is also losing Tyrann Mathieu. Losing both your starting safeties on the same day doesn’t seem like ideal team building for the Texans.
There’s a strong sense that Jackson is a player who is on the upswing despite his age. It’s possible the Broncos are acquiring a player who is still in the prime of his career.
It’s also very possible the Broncos will move Jackson back to corner. That would really help the team cope with the potential loss of Bradley Roby in free agency.
Jackson’s versatility makes this a really safe signing for the Broncos. The best case scenario is that the veteran’s legs allow him to move back to corner full-time. Safety is becoming a more important position for teams around the NFL, but corners are still more valuable.
Even if Jackson is forced to play safety, this deal can provide quality value for Denver. $11 million per season would make him one of the five highest paid safeties in the league, but the prices for other free agents at the position will push that potential ranking down in the coming days.
The only reason to criticize the signing in the slightest is that the Broncos would be better off signing younger players. Jackson played really well in 2018, but it’s easy to envision a scenario where his performance starts to tail off soon due to age-related regression.
That’s a minor concern though. Overall this is a really solid signing of a player who should thrive in Fangio’s scheme. Look for Jackson to help Denver’s defense cope with the pressures of the passing games in the AFC West.