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Free Agent Spotlight - CB Kareem Jackson

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Bucs fans want a veteran addition to the secondary. Here’s one possibility.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Recently, my cornerback preview of the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine was published here on Bucs Nation. As has been the trend all of this off-season, fans of the team let it be known they felt the smarter move was bringing in a free-agent veteran rather than adding more youth to an already uber-young group of players.

Perhaps they’re right. And if so, there are certain players available who may fit the bill. In this stab at identifying the right guy, we’re looking into Houston Texans cornerback, Kareem Jackson.

Kareem Jackson’s Career

It’s been nine seasons since the Houston Texans drafted Kareem Jackson 20th overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.

At the time, the reaction was a mixed bag. Dunta Robinson had been the Texans’ franchise corner until then, and there were concerns Jackson wouldn’t be able to fill the role.

While he hasn’t made any Pro Bowls or landed on any All Pro teams, he’s been a solid fixture for the franchise.

He’s played no fewer than twelve games in each of his nine NFL seasons and has appeared in at least fourteen in each since 2013.

Jackson’s 16 career interceptions have him tied with Johnathan Joseph for the franchise lead and are three more than Robinson had during his time with the franchise.

Now, it may be time for Jackson to become the veteran allowed to walk away while the team looks for their next shut-down corner to lead the way for the secondary in Houston.

Why The Buccaneers Need Him

Tampa Bay needs secondary help. Period. The Buccaneers defense allowed a league-high 72.5% completion percentage to opposing teams in 2018 and tied their NFL ranking in average yards allowed per completion (8.2). That’s a lot of yards folks.

While they didn’t surrender the most passing touchdowns last season, they did finish third among the most allowed after giving up 34 of them. Only the San Francisco 49ers (36) and Oakland Raiders (35) did worse.

It’s no surprise then, the 49ers and Raiders just happen to be drafting ahead of the Bucs, but if Todd Bowles is going to get a turn around going in year one, he’s going to need more pieces.

And I agree with the fans who think the team needs veteran leadership, not rookies. Although, a little of both could be good.

Signing a free-agent veteran takes a little of pressure off the draft board in this situation. Bottom line is, Jason Licht has got to find a way to solve some of his roster’s current issues before the draft comes around. Signing a consistent guy like Jackson could do just that in this case.

What Will Jackson Cost?

Robert Alford was recently released by the Atlanta Falcons and signed by the Arizona Cardinals to a three-year deal worth $22.5M carrying a $6M cap hit in the first year.

The structure of the contract allows Arizona a chance to get out with decent to good savings against their cap in both 2020 and 2021 if they do so.

Alford is less than a year younger than Jackson who turns 31 in April while Alford turns 31 in November.

The Cardinals cornerback has 10 interceptions through his first six seasons, while Jackson had 12 in the same time.

Similarities between Alford and Jackson don’t stop there. Both are 5’10 and both weigh in around the mid 180 pound range.

So, we can expect a similar contract, if not a bit higher were Jackson to have some competing bids going for him.

Will It Happen?

It’s definitely possible. Although, I’ve seen nor heard any reports the Bucs had any interest in Robert Alford, meaning the team could be looking for other physical traits like size and length or they just didn’t like Alford.

There are other free-agent cornerbacks and just because the team might target veteran experience doesn’t mean they’re looking over the 30-year old threshold. With free-agents ranging among the mid-twenties as well, it would make sense for the Bucs to have a dollar-target and negotiate around that number.

Of course, I feel like we haven’t yet heard the last of the Patrick Peterson trade talks, and if Tampa were to get involved in those a restructured extension could certainly be in play thus lessening his hit against the cap right away if so desired.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be browsing for cornerbacks this off-season, and we’ll have to wait and see if this model catches their eyes.