Sadly, we called it. In the first of what could be a series of cuts to trim the roster down in anticipation of free agency, the Browns have parted with former 2nd-round pick and team leader D'Qwell Jackson. Having been with the team for eight years, Jackson was well-liked and respected among his peers, but was scheduled to make a lot of money this year and seems like a better fit as a middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense than an inside linebacker in the 3-4.
Jackson signed a 5-year contract in 2012 when Tom Heckert was the team's general manager, but his cap hit in 2014 was scheduled to be $9.433 million. There was hope that the two sides could restructure, but it sounds like it didn't work out. To avoid having to pay his $4.1 million roster bonus, the Browns had to cut him by March 15.
Jackson will still account for $4.2 million against the cap, but they won't have to pay him anything in 2015 or 2016.
Going based on a projected salary cap of $130 million, the Browns' available cap space just increased from from $49.71 million to $54.943 million. See here for a full breakdown of what Jackson's release had on the Browns' available cap space.
Jackson released the following statement upon being cut:
"To the people of Cleveland and Browns fans everywhere: Eight years ago I began a journey that blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful organization and community. I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you for opening your arms and hearts to my family and me, and for making Cleveland an easy place to love and call home. It’s been an honor playing in front of you.
I also would like to thank the Browns players, coaches and staff for their tireless work and commitment. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all and will always carry you with me."
What are your thoughts, Browns fans?
With the release of LB D'Qwell Jackson, the #Browns are likely to focus more heavily on an ILB early in the draft. More details to come.— Vic Carucci (@viccarucci) February 26, 2014
With all due respect to any & all players I've covered in 17 years, @DQ52 was by far the classiest I've ever dealt with #Browns— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) February 26, 2014
D'Q Jackson said #Browns tried to restructure his contract, but the number wasn't right for him and "I want to go somewhere with stability''— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) February 26, 2014