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Friday, February 28, 2014
Why Cards would look at D'Qwell Jackson

By Josh Weinfuss

When I saw ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter tweet that the Arizona Cardinals were interested in former Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, I wasn't surprised.

Jackson
Arizona can't sit around and wait for inside linebacker Karlos Dansby to decide if he'll take whatever the Cardinals offer him to return in 2014. They have to -- and always will -- keep the wheels churning on filling the roster. But Jackson would be a good fit for the Cardinals in almost every way -- but one.

At 30, Jackson brings a veteran presence on and off the field. He would fill Dansby's void in both aspects, maintaining order in the locker room, and he still has a skill set on the field that would complement Daryl Washington aside him, much like Dansby did last year.

Jackson, who had 75 tackles and 1.5 sacks last season, played in a 3-4 in Cleveland and played alongside a talented outside linebacker in Paul Kruger, as he'd do in Arizona with John Abraham. But unlike in Cleveland, Jackson wouldn't have the pressure of being an anchor of the defense. He'd have talent all around him, better talent than he had with the Browns -- whose defense was, coincidentally, led by former Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. He'd have a role in Arizona and wouldn't be asked to do more than needed.

Last season, Dansby established himself as a versatile linebacker who played the run as well as he dropped back in coverage. Throughout his career, Jackson has shown he's able to produce big numbers, having career highs of 115 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions.

Jackson has a couple of years on Dansby, which, one would think, would be to his benefit when it comes to a longer-term deal. The former Brown told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that he wants to go to a team for which he can play more than a couple seasons.

But do the Cardinals want to commit serious money and a long-term deal to a 30-year-old?

The reason Jackson would not fit with the Cardinals, however, is because of how much money he could be asking for. He made $5 million last year, more than double what Dansby made in 2013. And according to reports, Jackson was expected to make about $7 million in each of the next two seasons.

Those numbers may be too high considering Arizona is already paying Washington about $8 million per year -- and he's 27.

Bringing in Jackson is worth it but Arizona may need to convince him to take less money to win -- something Jackson's never done. And at 30, winning may trump his back account.