Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Grady Jackson Is A Risk Worth Taking

The Atlanta Falcons' surprising decision to release veteran DT Grady Jackson has led to speculation that the Browns may have an interest in him. Jackson's advocates think he'd look mighty good in an orange helmet, and point to the fact that he led the NFL in tackles for loss last season, and that he already has 5 1/2 tackles for loss this year. Despite those numbers, other experienced Browns watchers suggest that Phil Savage has no interest in Grady Jackson.

Given the sorry state of the Browns defensive line overall, and Ted Washington's less than stellar performance at NT in particular, why not give Jackson a try? There are several reasons why the Browns might not want to sign Jackson. First of all, Atlanta may be a train wreck, but releasing a starting defensive linemen with statistics like Jackson's in the middle of the season definitely raises some warning flags that need to be checked out. I'd want to see the Browns do a lot of homework before signing Jackson under these circumstances, even if he didn't come with a lot of other baggage.

What "other baggage" am I talking about? Well, first there's the fact that Jackson is an enormous tub of goo with a reputation for being a talented but lazy player. He's listed at 362 lbs., but reportedly is closer to 400 lbs. With Jackson's obviously less than maniacal commitment to conditioning, it's probably no surprise that he's also got a history of injuries, including a chronically bad shoulder and dislocated knee suffered when playing for the Packers back in 2005.

Then there's the clubhouse cancer issue. Jackson has created distractions just about everywhere he's been in recent seasons. He feuded with his coaches in New Orleans, threatened a hold out in Green Bay a year after he signed his contract, and actually sued the Falcons last spring in an apparently successful ploy to extract more money from the club. Distractions like those are something the Browns definitely don't need.

Despite all of those issues, if he's healthy and motivated, Jackson's potentially a huge upgrade from what the Browns currently have at the NT position, and could help bolster one of the league's worst defenses against the rush. The Browns would be nuts to assume his contract (which pays him $1 million per year, runs through 2009 and includes roster bonuses of $2 million per year in 2008 and 2009), but if he clears waivers the team could do a lot worse than rolling the dice on Jackson for the remainder of the season.

If the Browns are serious about trying to make a run for the playoffs, they've got to do something to improve their run defense. Signing Grady Jackson right now may be their best chance to do that. Yes, Grady Jackson is a risk, but he's a risk worth taking.

3 comments:

Erik said...

Randy Moss is also a potentially huge upgrade when healthy and motivated, as is Terrell Owens. It's like the ultimate qualifying phrase.

I fully understand the argument that you want talented knuckleheads over untalented boy scouts. You can't win without talent.

But why do we in Cleveland constantly think that signing with one of our teams is going to be the magic elixir that suddenly turns a career underachiever into a potential-realizing all-star?

If Grady Jackson couldn't cut it with the Packers and Falcons, what evidence is there that the Browns are going to turn him around? This is a team that is only now starting to get in the same area code with "decent."

The Patriots can turn a guy like Moss around because they're the Patriots and Moss hasn't won a Super Bowl. Put Moss on the Browns, and he's the same selfish malcontent he was in Oakland.

If the Browns want to take a flyer on Jackson, fine. But I wouldn't expect him to become a defensive anchor just through a change of scenery.

Hornless Rhino said...

Erik,

I've got no illusions about Jackson. All I'm saying is he's better than what the Browns have, even with his shortcomings.

The Browns rushing defense stinks, and if you've got a chance to improve it now on reasonable terms, take it. Jackson may give them a shot at that.

I don't care if he realizes his potential. I'll take what he's done for Atlanta over the productivity that the Browns have gotten from that position over the past several seasons.

Erik said...

I just want to see the Browns spend draft picks on that D-line, and not try to patchwork it. I saw way too much mud and straw on the O-line the past seven years to make me think that the waiver wire is a good way to build in the trenches.

Grady Jackson might be a short-term fix, as long as getting someone like him doesn't lull Phil Savage into thinking he doesn't need to build the D-line through the draft.