ENGLEWOOD - Let the record show the Denver Broncos wanted Malik Jackson to stay.
They just didn’t want him back for the six-year, $85.5 million deal he got to play with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Broncos play Jackson’s Jags this Sunday in Jacksonville.
"I think that's the biggest thing I have to battle with, is going out there and proving to them that I'm worth more than what they offered me and they shouldn't have let me go,’’ Jackson said in a conference call with the Denver media Wednesday. “That's my whole premise for going out there and just letting them know that I'm a problem. You let this problem go, so now you have to deal with me today. I have to understand that the coach calls and I have to play within the defense. I can't let the moment get too big or going out there and doing dumb stuff and getting penalties or playing out of character.’’
It might be one for one, one for all on the playing field, but when it comes to the business of football, it’s every man for himself.
Broncos’ defensive end Derek Wolfe was happy with the four-year extension he took during the playoffs in January that was worth an average of $9.175 million per year, although he was irked his fellow linemate, Jackson, got a deal worth $14.25 a year with Jacksonville.
Is Jackson a $5 million a year better than Wolfe? No way. Then again, Jackson was irked the Broncos got a deal done with Wolfe and not him.
“I saw what (the Broncos) did with Wolfe,’’ Jackson said. “When they did do it, I wasn’t concerned at all, to be honest with you, but I was like ‘Ok, they got Wolfe, but where am I at.’ [I wasn’t] being selfish, but just trying to be more aware with where we’ll be. Wolfe got his deal and I was excited and I was excited to see where I was going to land because I thought that I demanded a few more dollars than he did, personally. He got his thing and then they offered me the 5-year, $53-million dollars, and I didn’t take it. I waited to the end and I got free agency. That’s the way that it went.”
Jackson got off to a slow start with Jacksonville but he has 3.0 sacks in his last two games. A complementary player in Denver to the likes of Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., Jackson is considered a leader in the Jaguars’ locker room.
“I think that’s where he’s exceeded (expectations),’’ said Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley, who once coached at Fort Lewis College in Durango. “It’s just how strong he’s been for our players. He has the respect of our whole team. I think he really challenges players on the field. He knows the standard. He knows what it looks like. He keeps pushing people out of their comfort levels.’’
Still, there was a catch to all that loot Jackson got with Jacksonville. His Jaguars are 2-9 and assured of missing the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season. The Broncos are 7-4 with a decent chance of making the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.
“It’s definitely tough,’’ Jackson said. “Especially coming from Denver and being in the playoffs every year and a first round bye. It’s a different beast that you have to see about the league and its kind of sobering until you realize that every team is not winning 12 games a year. This brought me back to Earth; to realize that it’s hard to win in this league and that you have to get everybody on the same page and just keep going. That’s what I learned.”
Then again, the Broncos do miss Jackson. Maybe not as much as he misses them, but compared to last season Denver has dropped in total defense (No. 1 to No. 4), rushing defense (No. 3 to No. 27) and points allowed (No. 9).
“I’ve been watching them all year and those guys look great,’’ Jackson said. “They’re playing fast. I know ‘B-Marsh’ (Brandon Marshall) has them handling things greatly. Those are my friends, at the end of the day. I care about them and I want them to be great.
“I will say that (without) me, Danny (Trevathan) and a few key other guys; they don’t look exactly the same. You expect that when have guys that grew up in a program who left, but I think that they look great.”
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