The Jacksonville Jaguars locked up a deal with prized free agent defensive lineman Malik Jackson during the "legal tampering" period, prior to the start of NFL free agency on Wednesday. Thursday, Jackson arrived in Jacksonville to sign his new contract and met with members of the media for an introductory press conference. Jackson spoke about a lot of things with the media, but something about his contract stuck out the most to me.
"I think, for me, it's one of those things where you go out there, you earn and earn a new contract. It's all written out and you earned it, but at the same time you have to go out there and earn it. They don't give you 90 [million dollars] today," Jackson told reporters when he was asked about playing hard after signing a big money deal. "So if I can have it in my account and I can just go sit down and not do anything - it's not like basketball where I can get it all guaranteed."
Whenever an NFL team signs a player in free agency to a massive financial deal, and five-years for $90 million is just that, there is always that worry in the back of fan's minds that the player will become complacent and never play to the level that earned them that deal. Jackson though, who was a fifth-round pick out of Tennessee, didn't strike my as a player that you needed worry about and he hammered that home in my eyes during his press conference.
"You still have to play. I have to go earn all of it. It's six years, 42-45 [million dollars] guaranteed," Jackson continued.
"I want 90 of it. I want all 90."
Teams, including the Jaguars, have been burned in the past in free agency with big contracts. From Hugh Douglas to Jerry Porter to Aaron Ross (which wasn't a big deal, but), so it's natural for Jaguars fans to be weary of the big deal, but I don't think I can remember hearing a player talk the way Jackson did with believable conviction about earning the money deal he just got, as that's typically the reverse it works in the NFL. You earn the deal, then you earn your next deal. Certainly though, if Jackson can early "all 90", then he's going to have earned a new deal.