NFL notes: Jackson's $19 million blessing

New York Jets' wide receiver Plaxico Burress celebrates after he caught a touchdown pass against...

New York Jets' wide receiver Plaxico Burress celebrates after he caught a touchdown pass against the Buffalo Bills in the second quarter of their NFL game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Nov. 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:50 PM ET

Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has gone from realizing his dream of playing in the NFL, to despair, to counting his blessings. And, the $19 million isn’t hard to take either.

That’s the amount Jackson is guaranteed after signing a five-year deal with the Cleveland Browns.

Two years ago a lot of folks wouldn’t have given a plugged nickel for Jackson’s chances of ever playing again.

Even the 28-year-old himself admits he had doubts as he fought through two seasons of rehabilitation with torn pectoral muscles on both sides of his chest.

But, healthy for the first time in three years, Jackson became one of this season’s feel-good stories. He made 158 tackles, second most in the NFL, finishing second in voting for the Comeback Player of the Year to Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford.

“I was at my lowest point ... You can’t think about it,” he said.

He choked with emotion.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “You have to think about getting healthy. You don’t think about, ‘OK, well am I going to be back to this form?’ When you’ve been broken down like I have, you build yourself back up. When I was building myself back up, hey, I was just wishing for an opportunity.”

Browns’ president Mike Holmgren said Jackson brings more than talent. “The component every successful team needs is leadership from players that the younger players look up too. By having D’Qwell sign, we have one of the pieces of that puzzle because there’s not a finer guy on our team as a person and ... a great player.”

FINDING FINNEGAN

The Cowboys want to upgrade a secondary that imploded last season and have targeted Cortland Finnegan and Brandon Carr in free agency “Obviously we are not pleased with where we are on defence,” vice-president Stephen Jones said. “We’ve got to get better over there. I don’t know that we’ve got good enough talent to win over there. We have to improve it.”

The Cowboys aren’t the only team targeting Finnegan. The Lions, with a secondary that got torched by Drew Brees in the playoffs, are also expected to try and sign him.

ALL TALK...

Plaxico Burress still wants to be an Eagle.

Question is, after watching him last season, do the Eagles still want Burress.

Burress was a part-time contributor to the Jets last season after jilting the Eagles who wouldn’t match New York’s $3 million offer.

“Nothing else would make me happier” than joining the Eagles, Burress told a radio station. But, then, this wouldn’t be the first time Burress has shot himself in the foot.

UP IN SMOKE

Big bad Leroy Hill has been arrested for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Atlanta.

A neighbour in Hill’s condo complained of marijuana odour and police found partially smoked blunts and marijuana residue inside the free agent linebacker’s unit.

Hill has a previous arrest for marijuana possession and, in 2010 also was arrested for domestic violence. Hill could face punishment including court-ordered probation, an NFL suspension, or a year in the CFL.

QUICK HITS

Giants receiver Mario Manningham denied in a radio report Tuesday that he said there was a “75%” chance he’d leave as a free agent. “I didn’t say that. You know how rumours get spread,” said Manningham, who also pooh-poohed reports he was interested in going to Tampa ... Despite Nick Collins’ future being unclear, the Packers won’t move Charles Woodson to safety. “I think the closer Charles is to the ball the more dangerous he is and more impact he has to the offence,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s the most instinctive defensive player I’ve ever been around.” ... From the damned if they do and damned if they don’t department: One reason the Saints need to reach a long-term deal with Brees? If they don’t they will have to use the franchise tag on him; meaning they can’t use it on Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks, who they’ll likely then lose to free agency ... The Browns aren’t expected to use the franchise tag on Peyton Hillis. They don’t believe he’s worth the $7.7 million. No other team is expected to pay him that much annually either on a long-term deal. But question is will Hillis be so upset with the Browns’ chintzy approach that he goes elsewhere to spite them. Rationality and prudence have not been Hillis’ hallmarks ... The Giants will host the season opener on Wednesday, Sept. 5 ... Oh, brother. An arrest warrant has been issued for Michael Vick’s brother, Marcus, after he failed to turn himself in at the Newport News City Jail to serve a 10-day sentence for contempt of court because he twice failed to appear to answer a charge of driving on a suspended license ... The 49ers have signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a six-year deal ... With efforts to re-sign centre Scott Wells going nowhere, the Packers will turn their attention to Texans centre Chris Myers.

HATE TO LEAVE

Parting, for Bears defensive lineman Anthony Adams, was sweet sorrow this week.

Normally the platitudes are saved for when players sign contracts. Adams used his after he was released.

He told the Chicago Sun-Times he might’ve fired himself; that he has no hard feelings.

“I don’t blame them,” Adams said. “I probably would have done the same thing.” Adams was injured in training camp, then passed on the depth chart by rookie Stephen Paea.

Adams also tweeted his thanks to fans for his five years in the city. “Thank You Chicago!! Thank you to all of the coaches, all of the players, all of the former greats, and to all of the die hard fans,” Adams wrote. “Special Thank You to Richard Dent for allowing me to wear #95! I did not feel comfortable wearing it, but you were so cool about it! You all have been phenomenal to my family and my growth! Chicago will always have a place in my heart. It is the city that loved me for 5 yrs! It is the city where I witnessed the births of my 3 children! It is the city where I won my first division championship! It is the city of great food and even greater people! I have never witnessed so many fans who love the players the way you do — win or lose. It has been a honour to play for you! My family and I will forever cherish all of the relationships we built and I hope this will always be a place you will let me call home!”

SO NOT SORRY TO SEE YOU GO

The Jets and Patriots are prepared to divorce themselves from a trio of players who once were regarded as focal points.

Tackle Matt Light appears history in New England. Bart Scott could end up crossing the street in Manhattan to join the Giants.

Neither the Patriots, nor the Jets, look worried.

The Boston Globe reports the Patriots are satisfied with the offensive line even if Light retires, as he has indicated he might.

Scott meantime is leaving angry. His agent Harold Lewis said Scott was “extremely frustrated” in his diminished role last season, and that it was “destroying him” not to be utilized as he was in his first two seasons. He has gone from a centre piece to table scraps in Rex Ryan’s defence.

Lewis said Scott would go to the linebacker-needy Giants “in a heartbeat.”

The Jets reaction seems to be to grab the defibrillator to hurry up that next beat.


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