Although Tyson Jackson showed considerable improvement in 2011, as time passes it might be hard for even the staunchest Jackson supporters to claim that his play matches his salary.
Jackson played the run very well last year, but his game still has holes and he hasn’t even come close to living up to his draft position. While Jackson appears to be a serviceable NFL starter showing improvement, he is not yet a Pro Bowl player and when a team takes a player third in the draft, that is what they are expecting.
I’m not sure if Jackson will ever reach a Pro Bowl level, but if he doesn’t, it is going to be harder and harder for the financially conservative Chiefs to continue paying him. Basically, Scott Pioli will either have to admit he was wrong in drafting Jackson so high by asking the player to renegotiate his contract at a level that better reflects his contributions on the field or he’ll have to shell out as much as $14.72 million to the DE in 2013. The Chiefs paid Jackson $8.005 million in 2011.
I’m not sure which the Chiefs front office might despise more: admitting they are wrong or paying high salaries. Regardless, they’ll likely have to do one or the other following the 2012 season.
The only way the Chiefs get out of this mess is if Jackson is traded or starts playing at such a high level that his salary is warranted.
While the Chiefs certainly aren’t hurting for money, there may come a time when they will be. Guys like Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert are entering lucrative portions of their contracts and as the Chiefs continue to develop and retain stars like Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry, their costs are likely to rise whether they like it or not.
The question is, would you rather have the Chiefs use that money to pay Tyson Jackson, or retain guys like Brandon Carr and Dwayne Bowe?