Last year, Tyson Jackson was due a lot of money from his big rookie contract but took a big pay cut to remain with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. This year, he is scheduled to be a free agent on March 11. As a starter, Jackson is one of the top 2-3 Chiefs players scheduled to be free agents (Branden Albert, Dexter McCluster being the others).
My sense is that most people believe Jackson will not be back with the Chiefs. Some would look at him taking a multi-million pay cut last year as a sign that his return is unlikely.
But what if I told you the Chiefs should look into bringing Tyson Jackson back next year.
The way I look at it is this: Is Jackson a better option than what you've got right now?
His skill-set on early downs is somewhat unique for the Chiefs in that they don't have any obvious candidates to replace him besides Allen Bailey, who has been a sub package player in his time in Kansas City. Sure, they could sign someone or spend a first round pick on a player to replace him. But haven't you had enough defensive linemen in the first round? I know I have.
If you can agree with me that there are no obvious candidates to replace Jackson's production on all downs (a role Bailey traditionally hasn't played), then you can agree that the Chiefs should at least explore bringing Jackson back.
I don't know how much Jackson seeks on the open market. Last year he reportedly took a $10 million straight pay cut to stay with the Chiefs, from $14.7 million to $4.2 million. That tells you that Jackson didn't expect to get more than $4 million on the open market. That number should get you in the ballpark, give or take a million or two per year, of what he could potentially command this year. Even $4 million per year, which is what Mike DeVito makes, might be too much, but these are things you find out by looking into it. (And the Chiefs have surely looked into it either way ... they just didn't tell me what they found out).
The reason I want the Chiefs to explore bringing Jackson back is not so much because Jackson is so good that they must have him back ... it's because they don't have a lot of other options. That's not a very compelling reason to spend lots of money on someone but it just makes me nervous to think that the Chiefs have such a question mark there.
I'm not saying the season depends on Tyson Jackson's return or anything like that. But I don't think we should dismiss him so quickly either.