Tyson Jackson (outside of maybe Alex Smith) is easily the most divisive player the Chiefs have had over the past few years. He was controversially drafted third overall in 2009 and was Scott Pioli’s first draft choice as General Manager of the Chiefs. He’s been largely hit or miss in his career but is coming off his best statistical season as a pro. Should the Chiefs bring him back for 2014?
Player: Tyson Jackson
Position: Defensive End
Status: Unrestricted free agent
Situation: Jackson just completed his fifth season in the league after being drafted third overall in 2009. He started 15 games last season and has started at least 15 games in a season all but once (2010) in his career.
In 2009 the Chiefs were planning on switching to a 3-4 defensive scheme and Pioli wanted to find his version of Ty Warren, who quietly made the Patriots 3-4 defense so effective for several years while Pioli was there. Warren was a run-stuffing, block-consuming mass of a human being at defensive end that allowed the Patriots’ linebackers to make plays. Rarely do defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme rack up large sack totals or gaudy stats, which perhaps doomed Jackson from the beginning.
The Chiefs had just traded defensive end Jared Allen, who was emerging as one of the NFL’s best defensive players, as well. Allen’s success elsewhere and Jackson’s apparent mediocrity didn’t sit well with many Chiefs fans early on. Allen played in a 4-3 scheme, however, and many fans and pundits failed to realize that he and Jackson, while both defensive ends, played entirely different positions when considering the differences in the two formations. 3-4 defensive ends are rarely pass rushers at all. He’s still no Ty Warren, but he’s been above average against the run and even tallied four sacks this season.
Jackson was set to make a ridiculous amount of money last season, originally tallying more than 14 million against the cap. He accepted an enormous pay cut, however, and cost the Chiefs just over 4 million last season. But here’s where Jackson’s situation gets dicey. While I’ll blame his ineffectiveness rushing the passer on the sceme for the first four years of his career, last year was different. The Chiefs still ran a 3-4, but nose tackle Dontari Poe was commanding double teams all season. Jackson failed in large part to take advantage of this and the Chiefs had to rely on their linebackers to generate any kind of pass rush.
I like Jackson and think he has value as a run-stopping 3-4 defensive end, but I’d only bring him back on cheap deal. If he asks for anything more than 4 million annually, I’d let him walk away. The Chiefs are in too much trouble financially to be paying a guy who can’t play on passing downs any significant capital.