DENVER — If he worked in the real world, Kareem Jackson might have a decent case of age discrimination.
Despite playing good football for the Denver Broncos as a hard-hitting safety the previous three seasons, he had to take a pay cut from $10 million to $5 million last year, and his free-agent market slashed his base salary from $5 million to $2 million this year.
Of course, 99% of the world isn’t going to feel sorry for a guy making $2 million a year, even if it did require turning each cheek in the past 24 months. Relatively speaking, though, Jackson is evidence the NFL marketplace can discriminate against a 13-year veteran who recently turned 34 years young.
“I wasn’t frustrated this year – last year, yeah,’’ Jackson said Tuesday afternoon following Day 2 of the Broncos’ three-day voluntary minicamp session at team headquarters. “Like you said, it’s like when you turn 30 they act as if you can’t do anything anymore.
“I feel like they’re not paying attention to the tape. For me, my tape speaks for itself. I come out here every day and I still compete at a high level. I feel like I can still do it all. There’s no restrictions in my game. That’s definitely frustrating. That’s definitely unfortunate in our league, but that’s the way it goes. I understand how it goes. It definitely creates a bigger chip on my shoulder, and it’s all about coming out here and showing and proving.”
As a quick follow-up, does he still expect to be an every-down safety for the Broncos this year?
“Why wouldn’t I be?’’ Jackson said.
He has the support from his new defensive coordinator.
“First of all, let’s not be mistaken, he can still run,’’ Ejiro Evero said of Jackson. “There’s still a lot of playmaking ability there. All the intangibles as well. Just being able to be a locker-room presence, a veteran presence, he can be a guy in charge of the communication. It’s invaluable.”
Jackson said in this past free agency period a couple other teams expressed interest, hinting he had similar offers elsewhere.
“Obviously, coming back here made the most sense for me at this point in my career, with everything that’s going on here,’’ he said. “Signing Russell (Wilson). The new coaching staff. Just the energy around here, so for me it was an easy decision.’’
Javonte is 1A
Javonte Williams is here and Melvin Gordon III is not. Is Williams ready to assume Gordon’s starting role this season and take on a workload of 18 to 22 carries a game?
“Yeah, I’ve been talking to Mel lately,’’ Williams said Tuesday. “Just seeing how he was, how he’s been doing. But I mean whatever George (Paton) has planned, I’m ready to go. If I’m going to split carries or I’m a starter, no matter what it is, I’m just trying to win a Super Bowl.”
As the 1B back to Gordon’s 1A role as a rookie last season, Williams rushed for 903 yards on 203 carries, and added 43 catches for another 316 receiving yards with 7 combined touchdowns. Fantasy Leaguers will expect more from his sophomore season. So does he.
“I’m definitely getting more confident,’’ Williams said. “And everything is starting to slow down. It’s starting to feel like regular football again and not just like, the NFL.’’
McManus volunteers to participate
Last year, amid COVID fears, the NFL Players union publicly urged their members to not participate in the team’s Phase I and II conditioning programs. After all, it is voluntary. The players union holds the same stance as a collective body to the voluntary workouts again this year, although it was much more subtle about it.
Brandon McManus, the Broncos’ fine kicker, perennial special teams captain and union rep, worked out on his own through the first two weeks of the Broncos’ conditioning program, as he did last year, but he has been attending the team’s voluntary minicamp this week. When the team reverts back to Phase II conditioning next week, McManus will again work out on his own.
“It is a voluntary offseason program,’’ McManus said via text to 9NEWS. “I voluntarily chose to come to minicamp. I voluntarily chose to not show up to other portions.”
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