D'Qwell Jackson will be missed. There is no doubt about that. He was the undisputed leader of the Browns locker room and nothing but class from the minute he was drafted in 2006. The best detective in the world could work the case for a year and not find a bad thing to say about D'Qwell.
But do the Browns pay him a $4.1 million bonus just because they can afford to? Will the defense suffer from a talent standpoint without him? General Manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine determined the answer to both questions is "No," and so on Feb. 27 they released Jackson, 30, praising him as they kicked him out the door.
Jackson led the Browns in tackles in 2007, 2008 and each of the last three years. A pectoral injury in 2009 shortened that season and another wiped out Jackson's entire 2010 season.
Leading the team in tackles doesn't make a player great, Somebody has to lead in tackles and often that title goes to the middle linebacker.
The fact is Jackson was not an impact player with the Browns. Part of that is the players around him weren't very good. He had to cover for the sins of others. He was very good, but not great in his time with the Browns.
Don't be surprised if Jackson winds up with the New England Patriots. New England coach Bill Belichick gushed about Jackson before the Browns played the Patriots last season.