Tanard Jackson has been on more than a few Buccaneers fans’ minds after he turned up in Bradenton, Florida at the IMG academies for the Bucs players-only three day minicamp. Jackson was suspended on September 22nd for a full season after violating the league’s substance abuse policy once again. The suspension landed him in the doghouse of many Bucs fans and has raised questions about his dependability.
Frankly though, I don’t think the Bucs are taking much of a risk by letting Jackson work his way back on to the field. Despite being slated to become a free agent this off-season, Jackson’s suspension cost him a year of service and his rights have reverted back to the Buccaneers for 2011. He is scheduled to make a very affordable 550k this year.
There’s very little financial incentive to part ways with Jackson, he’s extremely cost efficient. He’s also a heck of a player, despite the fact he’ll have to knock some rust off, Jackson was beginning to gain a very good reputation amongst NFC South coaches and NFL players in general over the course of his four year tenure in Tampa. In 2009 Jackson tied for the team lead with five picks despite playing just 12 games. He has a reputation as a big hitter and consistent player.
The problems with Tanard Jackson have never been on the field. On the field he was, and still is, the best safety the Buccaneers have on their roster. The problem is off the field and whether or not he can keep on the straight and narrow. The Bucs are fairly protected in that sense though…
Tanard Jackson is on his last chance. He faces a serious consequence (potentially a lifetime ban) should he fail another drug test. He’s had plenty of chances and he knows it. This is his livelihood at stake and he’s about to be in a contract year no less. He will be playing for half a mil (less than .5 percent of the 2011 salary cap) and if ever a young man was motivated, Tanard Jackson should be right now.
Frankly, I think the Bucs would be crazy to let go of Tanard Jackson. Raheem Morris has openly given a vote of support, his teammates lit up at his return, he has the support of his Buccaneer brethren. If anything he’s injury insurance down the line in case one of your other safeties go down (he won’t be eligible to be activated until the end of September). But he could also have a great comeback season too. One that wouldn’t involve a considerable investment on the Bucs’ part.
I’m not saying he needs to be a part of the Bucs long-term plans, just that they can’t afford to discard him right now.