Browns are smart to tag D'Qwell Jackson

The Browns are going to put the franchise tag on D'Qwell Jackson if they can't reach a multi-year contract with the middle linebacker, a league source told the Plain Dealer.

D'Qwell Jackson

D'Qwell Jackson

#52 LB

Cleveland Browns

2011 STATS

  • Tot158
  • Solo116

  • Ast42

  • FF1

  • Sack3.5

  • Int1

This is the right move. Jackson was the second-best player on the Browns defense last season behind cornerback Joe Haden. He is the established leader on a young and promising front seven. Cleveland couldn't risk Jackson going elsewhere. There is no one on the team who could account for Jackson's 158 tackles.

This is also a very smart move. The Browns really shouldn't even be talking about a long-term deal with Jackson. Given his injury history, Cleveland should keep the tag on Jackson for this season.

If Jackson proves he can stay healthy in 2012, the Browns should give him a multi-year contract. If injuries shorten his season again, the Browns aren't on the hook beyond this year.

Jackson reportedly is seeking a five-year deal. That's risky at this point for the Browns. Five years? This is the same player who got on the field for a total of six games in 2009 and 2010.

This isn't a knock on Jackson because he excelled last season when few expected him to ever play again. His comeback story was one of the best in the NFL this past season. He finished second in the NFL in tackles, and no one had more defensive fumble recoveries in the AFC than him.

I still considered the chances of the Browns using the franchise tag as slim. My reasoning was the cost of the tag, which is projected to be $8.8 million. That's money you give pass rushers, not inside linebackers.

The Browns have around $21 million in salary-cap space. That means the franchise tag on Jackson will eat up for more than 40 percent of that.

So, keeping Jackson is the right move. The only way it's a wrong move is if it limits what the Browns can do in free agency.