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Jackson was scheduled to make over $8 million in 2012; he’ll now receive $4.25 million in base salary, with $4 million guaranteed. Jackson also carries a $14.72 million salary ($3.2 million guaranteed) in 2013, but it’s highly improbable he would receive that money since he would carry a $17.5 million cap figure. The Chiefs have sufficient salary-cap space and could handle that huge 2013 number if Jackson plays at a level worthy of it, but it’s likely his deal either would be restructured again, or he would be let go.

If Jackson continues to develop and produce, the Chiefs would be well positioned to do a long-term deal with him, and sources said the team is impressed with his character and maturity — as evident by his handling of this new contract — as well as his on-field growth. On Jackson’s end, he loves the scheme in Kansas City and wanted to stay.

“A lot of people have pushed him up pretty high at the guard position,” NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock said in a conference call last week. “I worry a little bit about whether or not how well he’s going to handle a big body directly over him. But obviously I really like the kid.”

Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly currently ranks second to DeCastro and has collected 29.4% of fan ballots. Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe (8.9%), Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill (4.8%)and LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers (3.1%) round out the top-five.

There is no longer an off-season in professional football with mini-camps, authorized team workouts and mandatory strength and conditioning constituting the year round profession that the NFL is today. But once upon a time players held jobs when the season ended and kept them until the start of training camps.

This was especially true in the early days of the league when salaries were not so over-the-top as they are now and players lived among the ordinary folk.

“All your life, as a football player, people tell you that your odds of getting into the NFL are ridiculously low,” said Stephenson, an offensive tackle who played in high school at Blue Springs before moving on to Oklahoma. “They throw these stats out at you, trying to intimidate you. But it’s good for you. It keeps you motivated and keeps you working hard.

“I probably wouldn’t have believed I could make the NFL. If you would have told me when I was in high school that I would be getting this kind of attention from NFL teams, I probably would have laughed at you. It’s a tremendous experience.”

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