After a career that spanned a decade and included stops at four different NFL franchises, Malik Jackson has officially announced his retirement.
The former Jaguars defensive tackle recently confirmed he was hanging up his cleats after sitting out the entirety of the 2022 season. Selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, Jackson outplayed his draft position and then some. A four-year spell in Denver saw him gradually assume a starting job on the defensive line, and culminated in a fairytale run to the Super Bowl - in which Jackson scored a touchdown, scooping up a Cam Newton fumble in the endzone.
A year later Jackson took advantage of his new superstar status in free agency. The Jaguars signed him to a six-year, $85.5 million contract with $31.5 million guaranteed. In Gus Bradley’s final season in Jacksonville, Jackson predominantly lined up at defensive end, but he was moved back inside by new head coach Doug Marrone in 2017.
Jackson was productive as an edge rusher, but plying his trade back to his natural position saw him deliver his finest season in an NFL jersey. As part of the famous ‘Sacksonville’ defense that included Marcel Dareus, Calais Campbell, and Yannick Ngakoue, Jackson recorded 40 tackles, 8 sacks, 3 pass breakups, and an incredible 4 forced fumbles. This led to him being named to the Pro Bowl for the only time in his career, as the Jaguars went all the way to the AFC Championship Game.
Jackson enjoyed one more season in Duval County before being released, a victim of salary cap management. He teamed up with current Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson for two years in Philadelphia before finishing his career with the Browns in 2021. The former Tennessee Volunteer finished his ten-year pro career with 292 tackles, 35.5 sacks, 29 pass breakups, 6 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries.
Speaking on Good Morning Football on Friday, Jackson explained why it was the right time to step away from football:
“I’m done. I appreciate the ‘free agency’ tag, but I’m done. I’m not leaving the couch right now. I’m happy at home. Unless it was an LA team with the right amount of money, no playing and no practicing, I’m okay. 10-12 seasons was the goal. I was able to get to a point where I was okay, did pretty well for myself, and it was enough. You know, I have a daughter and I need to go home and be with her, and just start living life.”
One of the game’s colorful characters, Jackson was always good value for a soundbite. Mic’d up on numerous occasions, he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind - and forever endeared himself to the Jacksonville faithful by calling out Jurrell Casey of the Titans in defense of Blake Bortles:
Malik Jackson just announced his retirement from the #NFL on @gmfb.— Andrew Gibson (@1010XLAG) July 14, 2023
Anybody who has Blake Bortles’ back, and talks smack to the Titans is a #Jaguars legend in my book.#DUUUVAL pic.twitter.com/QcFAVisMhd
Jackson understood what it was to be a leader, both on the field and in the locker room. Well-respected by his teammates, he leaves the game suitably recompensed, with his health intact and a ring on his finger. A consistent pocket penetrator from the interior, Jackson put up 113 tackles and 19 sacks during his three-year stint in Jacksonville.
Congratulations on a great career 97!