DENVER — The Broncos entered free agency needing to corner the market on a starter. As the free agency frenzy turned into a blizzard, Denver remained patient, landing a player it believes will help solidify coach Vic Fangio's first defense. The Broncos agreed in principle on a three-year, $33-million deal with veteran corner Kareem Jackson, per sources. The deal includes $23 million guaranteed.
"All good things sometimes come to an end. At the end of the day, it’s another opportunity for me. They’ve got a great group of guys there," Jackson told @MarkBermanFox26 on joining #Broncos. "I’m eager to get there and do whatever I can to help them win."
And the Broncos are not done yet. They have enough money to land another starter. They inquired about defensive end Malik Jackson and considered linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Adrian Amos, but are narrowing their focus on offensive help. Another receiver would be a boost -- and Golden Tate is on the board -- but a more realistic and likely target is Miami right tackle Ja'Wuan James. The Broncos nearly acquired him last season. James is 26, big and athletic. He would stabilize the right tackle position, possibly for several seasons. It would also ease the sting of the potential loss of center Matt Paradis in free agency. The Broncos have remained in touch with Paradis' reps, but were not close to bridging the gap on a contract, and that was before Mitch Morse received $11 million per season from the Bills.
As for Jackson, he's solid.
"He's a good player," cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. "I've always respected his play."
Jackson, 30, is a hybrid player. He played safety and corner for the injury-ravaged Texans last season, drawing praise from All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt, among others, for his versatility. Jackson has nine interceptions since 2014. His age and salary create understandable pause. But this is the going rate for a starting cornerback. And Jackson is dependable. This cannot be overlooked when trying to get the Broncos back on track. They need players who are available -- Jackson has missed only two games the past three seasons -- and consistent. Free agent Brady Roby is more talented, but suffered through a roller-coaster ride last season. Jackson's signing means Roby will not return.
Fangio has said that tackling is non-negotiable from his defenders. Jackson, a cerebral player who has experience in many schemes and should provide more freedom in how to use Harris, fits the profile Fangio prefers in many ways when listening to how he addressed his evaluation of cornerbacks at the combine.
"First off, you can never have enough of them. The biggest difference in the NFL in the last several seasons, compared to before, is teams are playing three wide receivers or more a lot. this past year in Chicago, we were in the low 80-something percent of facing three wide receivers or more on the field. So, we've got to have three corners on the field. To me, that's a big, big difference and you never have enough of them," Fangio said. "Corners come in all shapes and sizes. I think if you only want to draft or acquire certain types of players, there just aren't enough of them. You'd better just take any corner you can get that can play the game and cover, regardless of size, speed, etc. You can't pigeonhole yourself."