With Sam Baker's release, there's only one player whose combination of poor 2014 performance, contract size and uncertain 2015 role makes him an obvious candidate to be cut. That player is Tyson Jackson.
Sussing out what will happen to Jackson isn't necessarily easy, because we don't know what the coaching staff thinks of him. They're having him slim down somewhat and indicating he'll play some end and some tackle in the new scheme, but I can't imagine they watched 2014 tape on him and came away with a great feeling. T-Jax managed a handful of nice pass rushing plays and was solid against the run at times, but the Falcons were hoping for much more than that when they inked him to a five year contract in Mike Smith's last season running the team.
But that doesn't mean he doesn't have some value. He's at best an intermittently useful pass rusher, but he's a big body that can help out on special teams and his run stopping acumen has never really been in doubt. When you consider that the Falcons are going to be utilizing players like O'Brien Schofield and Vic Beasley who don't project to be great against the run, keeping Jackson around as a bookend for those players who can kick inside at times to replace more pass rush-capable players like Jonathan Babineaux on early downs makes a certain amount of sense.
All this wouldn't be such a big deal if he didn't A) project to be less than a full-time starter and B) cost so much damn money. It leaves his future uncertain, to say the least, particularly with Ra'Shede Hageman ready to take a step forward and the depth at both defensive tackle and defensive end looking better than it has in years.
@TheFalcoholic I would be shocked. would hold $1.6M in dead money this year while only saving 2.25M and 4.8M dead hit next year— Ryan Feder (@RyanFeder) June 24, 2015
Ultimately, I suspect you'll see Jackson making the final roster as a reserve, and finding his walking papers in 2016 unless he can cash in a nice year. Considering the size and length of his contract, the fact that I can't see him getting starter's snaps qualifies as a disappointment in and of itself. No one should be shocked if the team chooses to move on from him, but I imagine they'll try to get some value out of him, and having him rotate in as a backup at defensive end and defensive tackle might be the best way to do that.
What are your expectations for Jackson?