HOUSTON -- This offseason hasn't felt unique to Kareem Jackson, so far.
He'll still wander into the Houston Texans facility, get a workout in, hang out with his teammates and feel like a Texan.
That could change for Jackson this offseason; the team that raised him might not be his home anymore. A deal before the market opens in March is a distinct possibility. Barring that, though, Jackson could become a coveted free agent, following a strong and versatile 2014 season.
"Honestly, it hasn’t really hit me yet," Jackson said. "I’m not really sure when it will."
Jackson had 57 tackles, three interceptions and nine passes defensed this season. He played in the slot more than he did in his previous four seasons (440 snaps inside this season, 284 in all the rest), while remaining a primary outside corner when the defense called for only two. It was a season that highlighted the steady improvement he's shown since a difficult start to his NFL career.
"To see where we’ve grown as an organization and me as a player, I guess it’s just a testament to how hard the coaching staff and the GM and how hard Bob and Cal have worked to get the right people here, to get the team going in the right direction, as well as me," Jackson said. "For them to get the right coaches in to help me progress my game. For me to work hard and progress my game on my own, the offseason and stuff, I guess that just kind of shows what hard work’s all about."
Their support mattered to Jackson, too. While many called for a change away from Jackson, a 2010 first-round pick, the Texans believed in his future and ability.
"They’ve always been in my corner," Jackson said. "It’s always been positive from them and from me. it’s just one of those things. You have growing pains, but at the end of the day, you get to a point and you’re comfortable."
That will factor into Jackson's thinking this offseason. So will what he saw during the 2014 season, in which new Texans head coach Bill O'Brien, new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and the staff helped Houston rise from 2-14 to 9-7, on the brink of a playoff berth.
"I’d love to be back here," Jackson said. "What Coach O'Brien has brought here with the coaches and stuff like that, with the system and stuff like that, I definitely want to be a part of what’s starting to happen last year and progressing into the future."