Barring a "miracle", D'Qwell Jackson will hit the open – albeit restricted – market when free agency commences at 12:01 Friday morning.
The linebacker's agent, Brian Mackler, tells theOBR that talks with the club are still "in the infancy stage" and it's highly unlikely a deal will be reached before the start of free agency. Mackler said he spoke to new general manager Tom Heckert on Monday regarding Jackson, but little progress on a contract came out of the conversation.
Mackler did say that he feels his client, who was medically cleared about a month ago and 100 percent recovered from a shoulder injury that prematurely ended his 2009 season, deserves to be rewarded by the Browns for what his done during his time with the club.
"He's given four years of his life to the Browns, and what he means to that team on the field and off of it for the community and the city, he deserves a long-term contract. Hopefully the Browns will do the right thing. You can quote me on that," Mackler told theOBR over the phone late this morning.
Mackler added that the Browns have given him no indication as to what tender level they'll give his client if, as expected, an agreement on a new contract is not reached. The agent also indicated that he doesn't think the Browns themselves have made a firm decision on what tender to place on not only Jackson, but on any of their other restricted free agents as well.
Several league sources, however, believe the Browns will give Jackson a first-round tender, which would give the club the right of first refusal or a first-round draft pick if Jackson received an offer and the team decided against matching it. Such a tender would pay Jackson just over $2.5 million for the 2010 season.
One source seemed to think there's an outside chance the Browns could give Jackson a first- and third-round tender – which would pay the LB just over $3.1 million for ‘10 – but that doesn't seem likely at this point in time.
Regardless, there seems to be little hope being held out that the heart of the middle of the Browns' defense since 2006 will strike a deal before the clock hits midnight Thursday.