As Adoree’ Jackson enters his fourth season in the league, the Tennessee Titans will have to decide whether or not to pick up the fifth-year option of his rookie contract.
In 2017, the Tennessee Titans were struggling to backfill a depleted secondary after many seasons of subpar play.
With general manager Jon Robinson at the helm, the Titans decided to revamp their secondary by bringing in Logan Ryan from the New England Patriots, while also drafting a cornerback from USC in Adoree’ Jackson.
Ever since, the Titans have been riding the wave of Jackson and the secondary for the past three years.
The Titans had two picks in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. They took WR Corey Davis No. 5 overall, and then took Jackson at No. 18. Jackson had elite speed and coverage skills that were on full display at USC, and he gave the Titans a dynamic player in the secondary it hadn’t had since the days of Adam “Pacman” Jones.
Thus far in his career, Jackson has seen big ups and downs, though.
After being immediately shoved into the starting lineup as a rookie, Jackson struggled to keep up with the NFL speed and elite wideouts in the league. Even against speedy receivers, Jackson showed a lack of awareness to keep up on routes, continuing to get burned on short routes.
However, in the past two seasons, Jackson has shown more promise. He has shown more ability to break up passes and keep up with elite wideouts. In 2018, Jackson finished as a top 25 CB in Pro Football Focus’ rankings.
This season, Jackson got much better despite his huge lapses in games at times. He finished as the No. 15 corner in PFF’s 2019 rankings.
It seems that, at times, he loses game sense and blows coverage badly. This has often led to fans yelling into the TV and giving him tough criticism. However, Jackson has shown an ability to bounce back from poor play.
With the Titans going into a critical free agency year, they must quickly decide on whether or not they want to pick up Jackson’s fifth-year option by May 3rd. If I were the Titans, I would pick up his option for a few reasons.
First, Jackson’s play has seen improvement each season. His trajectory has pointed up each year. Cornerbacks traditionally take the most time to adapt to the NFL and Jackson should be given a longer leash to prove himself.
Furthermore, the Titans have struggled to find depth at the cornerback position, and Jackson’s absence late in the 2019 season and his standout performance in the playoffs showed just how important he is to this defense.
With Ryan potentially leaving as a free agent this offseason, the team will need to rely on Jackson even more. Malcom Butler and Tramaine Brock are both solid secondary options, but neither of them are good enough to be the top corner in a secondary.
With Jackson’s cap hit in 2020 to be near $3.6 million, his salary for 2021 should be reasonable, and it’s another reason to keep him on for a fifth year.
In a pass-heavy league, cornerbacks are becoming even more vital. The Titans have one of the best safety tandems with Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro. An improved Jackson can make this one of the best secondaries in the league.
As a low-risk, high-reward player, I believe this is a no-brainer for the Titans.
The Titans have let some amazing homegrown corners walk away in free agency over the years.
Alterraun Verner, Cortland Finnegan, and Coty Sensabaugh all left the team. Going back even further, they let maybe the franchise’s best corner in Samari Rolle leave to join the Baltimore Ravens.
The Titans have historically shown a knack for developing secondary talent and they should take a fifth-year flyer on Adoree’ Jackson to try and keep him at home for the long haul.