D’Qwell Jackson, AFC’s tackle king, gets new deal from Browns

One-hundred and fifty-eight times last year, D'Qwell Jackson rammed his body into the opposing ball-carrier's body and knocked him to the turf. The Browns took steps Monday to ensure that they don't have to find someone else to make those 158 tackles.

Jackson signed a new five-year contract worth $42.5 million, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. And $19 million of it is guaranteed. Here's more from the PD:

"Dqwell is thrilled with the deal,'' said his agent Brian Mackler. "He wanted to finish his career in Cleveland and this enables him to do that.''

Mackler credited the Browns with being willing to keep Jackson around for the long term.

"They expressed a desire to lock him up and we finished it this morning,'' said Mackler.

It's always good to keep your star players, but I don't know if this thing is all strawberries and bunny rabbits, either. Jackson missed most of 2009 and all of 2010 with injuries, so health is a question, which makes a $19 million guarantee somewhat risky.

But, the Browns hung on to a key defender at a pay rate that is not unreasonable, so let's not spoil anyone's parade. And maybe more important than actually keeping Jackson is what the deal represents ‒ options. When you're a bad team with a lot of holes, and you have the No. 4 pick in the draft, and there's also a possible franchise quarterback available in a trade-up scenario, options are good.

The Browns get flexibility, and a linebacker who's highly productive when healthy. They don't have to dip into free agency to fill a hole at middle linebacker. They don't have to spend a draft pick to fill the position. They keep the franchise tag free for kicker Phil Dawson or running back Peyton Hillis (I know, I know ‒ but this is something they're apparently considering).

We'll see how this fits into the Browns draft strategy, whether that includes moving up to get Robert Griffin III, staying put, or even moving down.