A longtime member of the Houston Texans is officially on the open market. After spending the first nine years of his career in Houston, defensive back Kareem Jackson is scheduled to hit free agency for the first time since 2014. While he will be 31 at the start of the 2019 season, Jackson is still a strong, dependable player.
Jackson never made a Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team, but the nine-year defensive back has always been a reliable starter throughout the course of his career. Capable of playing safety and cornerback, Jackson finished his 2018 season with 87 tackles, two interceptions, and 19 passes defended. He’s a solid player against both the run and the pass and was a big reason Houston finished as the seventh-best defense in terms of DVOA.
Jackson initially arrived in the league as a first-round pick back in the 2010 NFL Draft. Starting all 16 games as a rookie, Jackson recorded 71 tackles, two interceptions, and 10 passes defended through his first year in the league. He built on that strong campaign moving forward and enters the 2019 season with 559 career tackles, 16 interceptions, and 88 passes defended.
Jackon’s strong season made him the 14th-ranked cornerback in the league, per Pro Football Focus. He’s not going to see top dollar in free agency, but he should have no shortage of suitors.
The Houston Texans would love to bring Jackson back for another stint. The lifelong Texan has been a franchise staple since entering the league and clearly has some gas left in his tank. His last contract extension was for $8.5 million per year, and he should see something similar this time around.
Quite frankly, Houston might not be able to afford that. Houston currently sits with a comfortable $62.6 million in cap space, but the Texans have quite a few high-priority free agents to sign. Jadeveon Clowney is also a free agent and is going to demand a monster deal to bring him back. Additionally, safety Tyrann Mathieu is also hitting the open market, and Houston could prioritize bringing him back over Jackson. When factoring in Deshaun Watson’s inevitable extension, it might be hard to find room for Jackson.
Jackson should find no shortage of suitors if he hits the open market, as just about everyone could use a solid starting cornerback on their roster. However, the New Orleans Saints and Kareem Jackson would be a match made in heaven. Drew Brees doesn’t have much time left, and New Orleans should be doing everything they can to get Brees another championship. The Saints just missed a trip to the Super Bowl last season, and Jackson could be the piece to send them over the top. Per Football Outsiders, New Orleans ranked 31st in the league at defending #2 wide receivers. Marshon Lattimore is a stud, but Eli Apple wasn’t getting the job done. Jackson could help solidify a New Orleans roster with very few weak spots.
Last Word on Kareem Jackson in Free Agency
Despite being on the wrong side of 30, defensive back Kareem Jackson still has plenty left in his tank. The cornerback/safety hybrid recorded a career-high 87 tackles in 2018 to go along with two interceptions and 17 passes defended. Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the 14th-best cornerback in the league, so his services should be in high demand.
The Houston Texans would love to bring him back, but they might not have the financial liberty to do so. Houston enters the off-season with a lot of cap space, but that number will dramatically decrease after they inevitably sign Jadeveon Clowney. Additionally, Houston might decide to pursue Tyrann Mathieu over Jackson. When factoring in Deshaun Watson’s inevitable pay raise, Jackson might be the odd-man out.
If that happens, look for the majority of teams to make a play at Jackson’s services. He probably go for around $8 million per year, which is decent money for a cornerback in today’s market. The New Orleans Saints would be the best fit, as New Orleans desperately needs someone to start opposite Marshon Lattimore. With Drew Brees entering his age-40 season, the Saints should be doing everything possible to make the 2019 Saints as complete a team as possible.
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