IRVING, Texas -- Here’s an All-22 look at newly-signed linebacker Jasper Brinkley:
Contract: Two years, $6.2 million with $2 million guaranteed. He received a $1.25 million signing bonus and $750,000 of his $1 million base salary is fully guaranteed. In 2016, he has a $2 million base salary and a $2 million option bonus due 23 days before the start of the league year. He also has a $250,000 roster bonus.
What I saw: The games I chose to watch were by design. I wanted to watch his most productive game (11 tackles against the Patriots) and then see him against a running team (the Jets) and a division foe (the Bears) because I’ve envisioned him as a two-down linebacker.
He played 104 snaps in the three games I saw, and I didn’t see him on the ground much at all. He had a great ability to keep offensive linemen away from his feet and either make plays in the hole or flow to the play and make a tackle. That says something about his experience because too often younger players can see it, but they react so quickly they get sideswiped by linemen. He has a good blend of being patient but not slow.
When he tackles a runner, he tackles a runner. Very few times did the runner fall forward for extra yards when Brinkley made a tackle. He met Stevan Ridley in the hole on the second play of the game against New England and just dropped him. In the fourth quarter he did the same against Brandon Bolden.
I thought it was interesting he was not used in the goal-line package considering his ability to stop the run. He did not play many snaps in the nickel package against the Patriots or Bears, but he saw a lot of time there against the Jets with the Vikings coaches wanting to make sure they were solid against the run.
He uses his eyes very well to diagnose plays and can sift through the garbage to get to the ball carrier. He had a tendency to overrun some plays, which allowed for some cut backs on some wide zone plays. He needs to be more disciplined there.
The Vikings didn’t ask him to do much in pass coverage. He mostly sat in the middle in zone coverage. I didn’t see him run down the seams with a tight end once. He was able to get to the backs in the flat and make the tackle after small gains.
How he fits: Last year the Cowboys threw numbers at the defensive line position in hopes of keeping players fresh while masking some of their deficiencies if they play too much. They are doing the same at linebacker with the additions of Brinkley, Andrew Gachkar and Keith Rivers so far this offseason. Brinkley has all the looks of a run-down linebacker. This defense is based on speed and range. Brinkley is not the fastest, but he knows how to keep himself out of trouble and get to the ball carrier.
Good move: I’m a little surprised by the $2 million guarantee for Brinkley, not because of the money it puts in his pocket, but because of the real possibility it means the team is moving on from Rolando McClain. That would be a lot of money to pay an insurance policy during the course of the year if McClain returns, and Brinkley is not viewed as a special teams’ help at this point yet either. He is a solid run defender, and in a division with DeMarco Murray and Alfred Morris, that’s a good thing.