2014 Falcons Free Agency: Could D'Qwell Jackson Come To Atlanta?

Gregory Shamus

The veteran linebacker could be an option for the Falcons in the middle.

I started The Falcoholic back in 2006, in the midst of D'Qwell Jackson's rookie season. It's fair to say that few players from outside the organization have been so persistently lusted-after by Falcons fans over the last eight seasons, and every offseason brought at least five "should the Falcons trade for Jackson or sign him if he's released?"

Brace yourself, ladies and gentlemen, because Jackson finally got the ol' Cleveland axe. He's coming off a season that saw him post 141 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, seven pass deflections, a pick and a forced fumble over sixteen games, but was cut to save the Browns some cap space. He's also going to be 31 years old when the 2014 season opens.

The question on everyone's mind is, will the Falcons sign him? While I can't give you a yes answer, I can give you a strong maybe.

First off, Jackson won't cost $6 million in this market. My best guess is that he can be had for about $3-4 million in 2014, and could likely be had for a two-to-three year deal. The Falcons have the cap space to make that work, but they would also need to have the desire. The reason to believe that they might is simple: They'll be relying on second-year UDFA linebacker Paul Worrilow to man the middle if they don't, with the simply average Akeem Dent as his backup.

The Falcons have made a habit of letting it ride at linebacker. They've had Spencer Adkins, Robert James and a creaky Mike Peterson as backups in recent years, and last year they had such a thin linebacking corps that two UDFA rookies got a legitimate shot. While Worrilow and Joplo Bartu played well, standing pat at the position would leave the team woefully thin yet again at an important position, even with Kroy Biermann coming back and presumably taking snaps there.

If Jackson can be had for a reasonable price, I'd absolutely support the signing. As a 4-3 middle linebacker, he can get after the passer and remains solid in coverage, even if his skills against the run are eroding. At best, he wins the starting job and provides an upgrade over Worrilow, and at worst he gives the Falcons much better depth and someone who can step in when the Falcons don't want Worrilow on the field. I do believe he would be an upgrade for 2014, at least, so it would behoove the team to see what kind of contract he's looking for.

What do you think?

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