In a free-agent landscape in which everyone will measure risk versus reward and try to squeeze value out of a signing, I present to you the case of Marlin Jackson.
The 29th pick out of Michigan in the 2005 draft by the Colts, he suffered season-ending ACL injuries in both 2008 and 2009. But it was still a surprise when Indianapolis decided not to tender him as a restricted free agent this week, effectively turning him loose for the rest of the league.
Because of the way he came free, the free-agent restrictions on the final eight teams don't apply to him.
If he rehabs and gets healthy, the guy can play and help someone. Perhaps the Texans or Titans, two division rivals in need of cornerback help, would like to add him with an incentive-laden contract.
Surely the Colts don’t think he will be effective after tearing his left ACL in a Nov. 2009 practice and his right ACL in an October 2008 practice. With Kelvin Hayden, Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey as corners and Antoine Bethea, a healthy Bob Sanders and Melvin Bullitt as safeties, they should be six deep in the secondary before factoring in a draft pick. Bethea is a restricted free agent with a first-round tender, and Bullitt has a second-round tender.
But what’s not good enough for the Colts could be worth a shot and some patience by several other teams.
“He is rehabbing way ahead of schedule,” agent Michael Sullivan told me in an e-mail exchange Friday afternoon. “Will be able to participate in June OTAs. More than a dozen teams have called so far-still sorting them out. Probably take some visits next week.”
Jackson is definitely a guy to keep an eye on.
Here's Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. on Jackson:
"I like Jackson. Big CB with good toughness and run support skills. The lack of a tender really makes me think that he still must have legit health issues-but that is speculation by me. Was an excellent fit in the Colts' Tampa 2 scheme where he would play near the line of scrimmage, reroute receivers and use his physicality. The nice thing with Jackson is that if he loses a step, he might be a good fit at free safety. Tennessee can be pretty demanding on their corners, so that fit would worry me. Houston wouldn't be bad. A real heavy zone team is where he belongs...if healthy."