CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- As he devoured his lunch, defensive end Malik Jackson bit back at the Broncos on Wednesday.
Jackson remains friends with several players, but admitted he desperately wants to spoil Denver's playoff run, if not season, after the Broncos failed to meet his contract demands in free agency.
"It would be awesome," Jackson said. "They shouldn't have let me go. I am a problem, and now you have to deal with me."
Jackson featured refreshing candor on his conference call with the Denver media. A fifth-round Broncos' draft pick in 2012, Jackson blossomed into an integral part of the defense. He totaled 14.5 sacks in 62 games, but developed into a run-stuffer with a nasty streak. Jackson played well as a complementary force to outside linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware. When defensive end Derek Wolfe accepted a four-year, $36.7-million deal with $17.5 million guaranteed before the playoffs last season, Jackson braced for his exit. He was happy Wolfe got paid, but believed he was better and was interested to see what Denver would offer.
Jackson said he turned down a five-year, $53-million offer from the Broncos before he hit free agency. Hindsight provides 20-20 vision, but Jackson insisted he would have taken that offer before the 2015 regular season.
"But things changed," Jackson said.
His value increased, and he was not prepared to accept less on the open market with suitors lining up. It proved the right decision financially, though the jury remains out on whether it was the correct move professionally. The Jaguars landed Jackson with a six-year, $85.5-million contract with $42 million. Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley believes, after a slow start, that Jackson has exceeded expectations. Jackson has three sacks in his last four games, but the Jaguars are 2-9.
"It has been sobering being on a (losing) team. You realize that not every team wins 12 games in this league," said Jackson, who added he has no regrets. "We are young. I had to adjust to three tech (at his position). But I am getting more comfortable."
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak praised Jackson on Wednesday, appreciating the energy and intensity he instilled. The Broncos have missed him in their rush defense, namely because of the preseason knee injury to Vance Walker. Told that Jackson has two-pronged motivation to prove the Broncos undervalued him and ruin their playoff hopes, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison smiled.
"I have no doubt he does," Dennison said. "They are a very talented defense. What jumps out on film is their team speed. We have been focusing on going north and south. If we don't, we are going to get hit."