One thing for certain, when the Browns lost their two starting defensive tackles from last season, Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson, GM Andrew Berry did not sit around.
He signed a bunch of help for training camp, then drafted Tommy Togiai in the NFL draft plus inked fellow rookie man-child Marvin Wilson to a rookie undrafted free agent contract.
The free agents Berry has signed are Sheldon Day, Malik McDowell, Malik Jackson and Damion Square. That equates to eight bodies in the defensive tackle room. That is probably four too many.
McDowell is a troubled soul and was a huge surprise signing because of his character issues. Day and Square show promise and either one could come in and make this squad.
But what about Malik Jackson? The veteran. The Pro Bowler. The Super Bowl Champion. Where does he fit in? Or does he?
DT Malik Jackson: Stay or Go?
Cleveland’s rebuilt defensive tackle room is extremely light on experience heading into the 2021 season. Tommy Togiai and Marvin Wilson are rookies, Malik McDowell is essentially a rookie, Jordan Elliott is only entering his second year, and while Andrew Billings and Sheldon Day have both been in the league for a few years, Billings has only been a starter for two years (before sitting out last season) and Day has started all of two games in his five years.
The Browns signed Malik Jackson to basically take over the “veteran leadership role” from Sheldon Richardson, who saw his contract terminated a few weeks after Jackson signed with the club.
Jackson has not been a full-time starter the past two seasons (although one of those years was lost to injury), but he still brings some value to the team. So unless one of the young guys simply blows everyone away during training camp and the preseason, look for Jackson to open the season on the game day roster.
Stay or Go? Stay
This one was a head-scratcher once his signing was announced. He is on the wrong side of 30 and did not play well at all last year. In 2018, he started nine games and then lost his job. Then he was injured in Week 1 of the 2019 season and placed on IR, and then last year had only 2.5 sacks and a mere 28 tackles with just six starts.
Just how many defensive tackles the Browns will keep is the key. Traditionally, only four. Jordan Elliott, Tommy Togiai and Andrew Billings should be the top three. Jackson does have the versatility to play outside or inside, so he has that going for him. However, he is 31-years old and there are much younger options who have had recent production instead of recent reduction. Will Marvin Wilson capture that last spot? Malik McDowell? I see Jackson as a veteran camp presence but the odd-man out.
Stay or Go? GO
Administrator: Browns Fans Only
Malik Jackson was drafted in the fifth-round by the Denver Broncos and has played for four different teams and almost 10 seasons. Looking at him on paper, he’s dependable. But his stats are already declining along with his age.
Being that he is one of the older guys on the team, you really have to take into consideration that the Browns just signed a beast in rookie defensive tackle former Ohio State Buckeye Tommy Togiai. Hearing rumors that the Browns are wanting to stack some weight on Tommy to make him even better has got to have Malik wondering if he can keep up and if he can, for how long? In my opinion, it’s time to move on and move up with TT and wish Mr. Jackson nothing but the best in his future.
Stay or Go? GO
Browns Backers Chapter President - Browns Fans Down Under
Bangor NSW, Australia
With a defensive tackle room packed with talent and the possibility of Jadeveon Clowney playing on the inside at times, this is going to prove to be the toughest position group to crack for a spot on the team - let alone a starting spot.
Malik Jackson was added to the Browns’ roster during free agency and comes in at 31 years of age with 10 years worth of NFL experience which includes a Pro Bowl in 2017 and winning Super Bowl L with the Denver Broncos in 2015. The 6’-5,” 285 pound DT was a huge roster upgrade with the aim of improving a defense that struggled in 2020 and a push to go deeper into the playoffs in 2021. When Jackson was signed, he was looking to be a certain starter for the 2021 season. But, with the signings and players picked in the draft, he is now on the bubble and will need to have a strong off-season and rely on his experience to lock down a roster spot.
Andrew Billings was signed prior to the 2020 season as an upgrade at the position, but hasn’t played a snap as a Brown due to opting out due to COVID. Jordan Elliot was the Browns’ third-round pick in 2020 and had a promising start to his career even though his opportunities were limited behind Larry Ogunjobi & Sheldon Richardson. With these two gone, Elliot is now the DT who has played the most snaps for the Browns. Sheldon Day finished the 2020 season on the Browns’ practice squad after being released by the Colts. Day finished the season behind Elliot on the depth chart which would seem to say he will need to have an outstanding training camp to raise his chances of making the roster.
The Browns have added to this room significantly in the off-season with the signing of Jackson but also with the signing of Damion Square. This signing probably won’t have too much of an impact for the roster spots, as at the ripe old age of 32 and with so many talented younger players in the group, Square is probably towards the bottom of the depth chart.
In the draft, Andrew Berry and Company selected Tommy Togiai in Round 4. Togiai is a highly-regarded player from THE Ohio State and was very productive at the position. It would be highly unlikely that he isn’t given a roster spot. Marvin Wilson was also picked up on draft weekend as an undrafted free agent. Wilson was given a big contract for an undrafted rookie with guaranteed money included in the deal. In the way to early mock drafts a year ago Wilson was ranked by all experts as a Top-10 talent for the 2021 draft. Wilson was eligible for the 2020 draft where he was seen as a first or second-round talent. Unfortunately, he had a rocky 2020 season at FSU which saw him play only 6 games as he was nowhere near as productive compared to his previous season. He is a player with a huge upside if he can regain his 2019 form and make a good start in the pro’s.
Finally, with an uncharacteristic signing by Berry, the Browns signed Malik McDowell. The former second-round pick by the Seahawks in the 2017 draft has never seen a snap in the NFL due to off-field issues. This doesn’t seem to fit the smart, tough and accountable culture that is modeled by the Browns’ coaching staff. However, this could be a free swing at the plate for the Browns. This 24-year old came into rookie mini camp at 6’-6”, 295 pounds and from all accounts he looked like a perfect specimen of the human form. If McDowell can reform his ways and buy in with the culture, he could be a surprise packet monster for 2021.
Where does this leave Malik Jackson? It will depend if the Browns decide to take four or five players in the defensive tackle room. Billings and Togiai are certain to make the roster. Leaving Elliot, Wilson, Jackson and McDowell battling it out for the final two or three spots. I think the Browns will take five in this case. Given the $3.5 million that the Browns have invested into Jackson and the Super Bowl experience he brings, he is safe and stays with the Browns in 2021.
Stay or Go? STAY
What say you? Stay or Go? Will Malik Jackson be on the 2021 opening day roster?
This poll is closed
A seasoned veteran with Pro Bowl and Super Bowl hardware? Yes
Don’t see him making it with all those younger bodies, so no