The Indianapolis Colts have made their first move of free agency today. The Colts came to terms with inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.
GM Ryan Grigson signed Jackson to a four year $21 million deal. It is awfully similar to the deal that LaRon Landry signed last season.
Jackson started all 16 games for the Cleveland Browns last season, and was cut at the end of the year. The eight-year veteran finished the year with 141 tackles, 1.5 sacks, seven passes defended, a forced fumble, and an interception.
Jackson is likely the best option at inside linebacker for the Colts right now. ESPN’s Free-Agent Tracker gave him a C+ grade (just above Pat Angerer) stating that he is a solid player, but his age (30) keeps him from being in the B range.
“He is a team-first guy that has been a very consistent producer on the field,” Grigson said in a team statement. “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 LBs we currently have.”
Jackson will likely start alongside Jerrell Freeman next season. The move also reunites Jackson with his former head coach Rob Chudzinski, who is now an assistant with the Colts.
Jackson brings a lot of experience to the table, but does he really fill a need? The Colts don’t need a tough nosed run stopper, they need someone who can operate in space. Basically they need a speed linebacker who is good in coverage.
How often did we see the linebackers get beat over the middle last season? (Hint: a lot). The Colts don’t need another thumper, they need better coverage pure and simple. Watch Landry play and you’ll see he can deliver a big hit, but ask him to tackle in space and the other team has a big gainer.
Looking at advanced stats, Jackson doesn’t exactly have a stellar collection of games from last year. Per PFF, he was -11.6 last season. He actually rated better against the pass then he did against the run. He was merely average, but that would still be a step up from where the Colts linebackers were
One of the positives is that he didn’t miss a snap last season. We can’t say the same thing about Angerer.
Based on his abilities, I think the Colts overpaid for Jackson. This could turn out to be a great deal, but recent free agent history suggests otherwise (See: Erik Walden).