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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos’ Christmas Eve nightmare loss to the New England Patriots wasn’t technically the end of the team’s season.
But it was the end to Kareem Jackson’s time with the Broncos. At least for now.
On Christmas Day, less than 24 hours after the Broncos’ 26-23 loss to the Patriots, the team was faced with the decision to either activate the veteran safety to the 53-man roster or release him. The Broncos chose the later and sent Jackson to waivers where any team in the NFL can claim him.
If, however, Jackson is not claimed, the Broncos plan to bring the 35-year-old back to their practice squad. On Denver’s practice squad, the team captain would provide depth and mentorship to the younger safeties in the room, including P.J. Locke, JL Skinner and Delarrin Turner-Yell.
On Tuesday morning, when asked what the plan is for Jackson moving forward, Payton seemed to indicate the team would like to have him back on the practice squad. As for his role and if he’ll play in the final two games of the season, that will be a week-to-week decision.
“Each week we’ll see and keep you posted by the end of the week or certainly by game time,” Payton said, pointing to whether or not Jackson will be elevated to the game-day roster for the final two games of the season. “A lot of it will be dependent on who we’re playing and then what the role and the vision is.
Even though Jackson would be brought back on the practice squad, he could still play in the final two games for the Broncos. Players who are on practice squads are allowed three game-day elevations to the active roster.
With only two games remaining on the season, the Broncos could use both of Jackson’s elevations to finish the season. That, according to the head coach, will depend on the opponent and plan going into the week.
There’s also a potential bonus for Jackson to re-signing to the team’s practice squad and not 53-man roster. It would allow another team to sign the veteran safety at any point. With Denver’s playoff chances sitting around just five percent, according to The New York Times, this move allows Jackson to sign with another playoff team if there is interest.
The hard-hitting safety only played in eight of Denver’s 15 games as he was suspended multiple times for “repeated violations of playing rules intended to protect the health and safety of players.”
Jackson was first suspended four games, which was reduced to two after an appeal, following a hit on Green Bay Packer’s tight end Luke Musgrave in Week 7 in which the safety was ejected.
Only a few plays back from his first suspension, Jackson delivered a hit to Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Joshua Dobbs that was deemed illegal by the NFL. Following the game, Jackson was suspended four games.
He was reinstated by the NFL following Denver’s loss to the Detroit Lions, but the Broncos were given a roster exemption up to Christmas Day. Denver decided not to activate Jackson before Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Instead, they chose to release him on Christmas.
This was Jackson’s fifth year in Denver after signing with the Broncos as a high-prized free agent in 2019.
For the past five seasons, Jackson and Justin Simmons have been one of the best safety duos in the NFL.
Jackson played and started 69 games for the Broncos, racking up 393 tackles, 22 passes defended, eight tackles for a loss, six interceptions, four fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one sack.