According to multiple media reports, the NFL is going to reinstate safety Tanard Jackson, who has been on a substance policy related suspension since August of 2012, to the league on Tuesday.
He is under the same one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Redskins that was essentially frozen when he was suspended. Adding his $735,000 salary to the cap will mean a net increase of $165,000 to the cap. The Redskins are sitting with almost $2.6 million in cap space so finances will not be an impediment to Jackson’s return.
And it’s not like the safety position is stacked with talented players. Projected starters Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark are on the far side of 30. Phillip Thomas, a fourth-round draft pick a year ago, has yet to take an NFL snap after missing last year with an injury. Bacarri Rambo, Thomas’ draft classmate, struggled mightily when he played last year. Jose Gumbs and Trenton Robinson are suited to be backups and special teams players.
Despite the money and depth chart situations greasing the skids for Jackson’s return, the Redskins should think long and hard about bringing Jackson back into the fold. You don’t need to have a real long memory to recall how badly Jackson burned the Redskins in 2012. Between his suspension and Meriweather’s injury the Redskins had to play the season without a starting caliber safety in the lineup. Although they did manage to win the NFC East, an additional win or two during their first nine games, when they went 3-6, would have helped playoff seeding, perhaps getting them a first-round bye.
The bottom line is that they counted on Jackson and he let them down.
Should the Redskins trust that Jackson will stay on the straight and narrow? To put a twist on the old saying, burn me once, shame on you; burn me twice, shame on me.
Even if he is not a starter, if Jackson is on the team, the team will be counting on him to be there for whatever role he is supposed to fulfill. Jackson apparently has a strong support group around him but he presumably had many of the same people on his side in 2012 and they weren’t able to keep him on the right path.
It would be a good story if Jackson could resume his NFL career after missing two full seasons and playing in just 12 games since the 2009 season. But the Redskins are not in the good story business. They need to do what’s best for the Redskins, not what’s best for Jackson. What’s best for the Redskins might be cutting Jackson loose and thereby avoiding a situation where they have to count on him.