With 20 Redskins set to hit the open market in a few weeks, GM Bruce Allen and his staff have some tough decisions to make. There are some big names on the list (i.e. Brian Orakpo, Brandon Meriweather and Perry Riley, to name a few). There are some obscure ones (like J.D. Walton) as well. All of the decisions, though, have the potential to have a lasting impact. In the coming days, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will give you their thoughts on who should stay and who should go.
Position/name: OLB/Rob Jackson
2013 cap number: $1.06 million
2013 stats: 19 combined tackles, two sacks, one interception
Background: Jackson enjoyed a breakout season in 2012 as he filled in for an injured Brian Orakpo. But he was unable to build on that momentum. In March 2013, he was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season after testing positive for unprescribed pain medication that he took for a toothache. Jackson returned to the lineup in Week 6, but his impact was muted as he only played an average of 12 snaps the next 11 games. He did, however, start in Orakpo’s place for the season finale. The bottom line on Jackson: He’s capable of being a starter but will always be a backup on a team that boasts Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
El-Bashir: Go—Jackson’s stats show that he’s not nearly as productive as Orakpo, a three-time Pro Bowler. But they’re good enough to make him first stringer on a lot of teams. So, assuming the Redskins retain Orakpo, it’s probably time for Jackson to move on—for his sake. At 28, he’s not getting any younger. And his window to land a starting role and a contract that will ensure a secure future won’t be open any wider than it is right now. From the Redskins’ perspective, they’ve got too many holes to overspend for a backup at this position. They’ve got Brandon Jenkins, a second year player they hope will be ready for a bigger role in 2014. They can also bring back veteran Darryl Tapp, a solid reserve and capable run stopper. Jackson deserves a promotion and a raise. It just needs to happen elsewhere.
Tandler: Stay—I’m not so sure that I agree that Jackson is good enough to be a starter for more than a handful of teams. He certainly doesn’t belong as a starting outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. That position requires a strong pass rusher and that’s not Jackson. When he started 14 games in 2012 he rushed 225 snaps and while he did get 4.5 sacks he got just 2 hits and 10 hurries, according to Pro Football Focus. But he is good in coverage and generally a solid tackler and he can be an asset on special teams. I think the Redskins will make him an offer as a reserve and then let him go check out the market. If another team gives him a chance to compete to be a starter and will pay him accordingly, they will wish him well and say goodbye to the last remaining member of the 2008 draft class. Should he not get a better offer—and I’m betting that he won’t—he’ll be back in Washington.