Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson led the NFL in tackles with 154 in 2008 and was on pace for 158 in 2009 before a season-ending injury, so we were surprised to read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer a suggestion that he might lose his starting job.
“Restricted free agent D’Qwell Jackson simply needs to wake up,” writes the Plain Dealer‘s Terry Pluto. “He may not even start on this team. . . . Jackson’s world has changed with all the new players who can take his job.”
Pluto makes a valid point.
With Jackson continuing to sit out offseason workouts while refusing to sign his restricted free agent tender, the Browns have upgraded at his position. They signed Scott Fujita to a three-year, $14 million contract and traded for Chris Gocong with the apparent intention of using him on the inside. According to Pluto, 2009 second-round pick David Veikune is “making progress” at the position, and Eric Mangini favorite David Bowens can also play inside.
Jackson wants a long-term contract, but the Browns have given no indication that they plan to meet his demands.
Assuming Jackson is healthy and makes good on his promise to not sit out regular season games, we expect him to win a starting job, probably next to Fujita. However, Jackson isn’t doing himself any favors with regard to depth chart determination by skipping the offseason with a new front office in town.