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Broncos would like to keep Malik Jackson, but others waiting for chance to sign him

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Before NFL free agency officially opens at 4 p.m. ET March 9, there is a two-day negotiating window that opens on March 7.

Players and teams can't sign contracts in that preliminary window, but it is a formal chance for a player, and his representatives, to see what the market is for the player's services.

So, here's a one-a day look at where things stand with the Denver Broncos' most prominent free agents.

Today: Malik Jackson.

Sunday: Danny Trevathan.

Status report: In a perfect world the Broncos would look at Jackson's body of work and decide that, of course, they want to keep him. But things often don't fall in line as timing is truly everything. In the same year Jackson is poised for the open market, the Broncos are at work toward a long-term deal for linebacker Von Miller that will likely be the biggest contract the team has ever agreed to for a player (in the $100 million neighborhood) while the Broncos are also trying to sign quarterback Brock Osweiler to a new deal. Jackson will be a popular target for others as well and his biggest offer is expected to come from another team.

The résumé: Since he was the Broncos' fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft, Jackson has played in 62 regular-season games with 24 starts in the team's defensive line rotation, with 16 of those starts coming this past season. He knocked down seven passes for the league's No. 1 defense in 2015 and was consistently a disruptive player in the middle of the field. He has played with proficiency in both a 4-3 scheme with Jack Del Rio as the Broncos' defensive coordinator as well as in the Broncos' 3-4 under Wade Phillips. He has lined up on the interior and at end, so he has every-down versatility. And in terms of that efficiency and impact, consider he led the Broncos' defensive linemen in tackles in both 2013 and 2014, despite having played 52.7 percent of the defensive snaps in 2014 and 52.3 percent of the defensive snaps in 2013.

The Broncos' position: They'd like to keep Jackson to be sure he fits their scheme, he consistently affects blocking schemes and in big moments, Jackson has made plays that have tilted games. But Miller is a priority, as is Osweiler, so Jackson is an expensive luxury they likely can't afford on their salary cap. Jackson figures to draw the kind of offer, as one of the most productive free agents poised for the open market, the Broncos can't, or won't make. This year's draft is also inordinately deep with defensive linemen, so much like the Broncos found significant value when they selected Jackson in the fifth round, they feel like they can potentially find that kind of value on this draft board as well.

Jackson's position: The guy knows the score. You perform, you hit the open market and you see the kind of financial love that's out there. In recent weeks he described free agency this way: "I think I embrace it. It's one of those things that you know what it is. You have to go out there and be the best player you can because it's the one chance you have to go out there and do something big for your family and the rest of your life." Jackson has consistently talked of his desire to impress Broncos' executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway so "that he'll want to keep me," but Jackson has also added "but you have to look at everything and make the decision that's best for you all around."

The bottom line: Jackson has been an important, athletic, efficient player for the Broncos who routinely made the most of the playing time he got. When he was in the lineup, he simply made things happen more than most guys who got as many, or more, snaps than he did. But the Broncos signed Derek Wolfe before the season was over and now face the prospect of putting together a mega-deal for Miller as well as trying to keep Osweiler, something that likely got a little more expensive after Sam Bradford signed a two-year, $36 million deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. So, Jackson's best offer is likely coming from another team and the Broncos likely won't have the ability, or desire, to match it.