ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Kareem Jackson watched his career come full circle on Tuesday.
Placed on waivers by the Denver Broncos, the Houston Texans claimed the veteran safety, seeking depth after placing Jimmie Ward on injured reserve. Jackson began his career in Houston in 2010 as a first-round cornerback. He joined Denver as a free agent following the 2018 season.
Denver planned to sign Jackson to its practice squad if he cleared waivers. Instead, Jackson goes home, joining coach DeMeco Ryans, who was his teammate earlier in his career.
“Being part of that organization (before), seeing DeMeco getting the job and all his success, I was happy for him,” Jackson told KPRC2 in Houston. “They’ve got a bunch of young talent there. I am excited to get the sour taste out of my mouth with what’s been going on. It’s been a rough season for me mentally. I want to come in and help this team win the next two games and get to the playoffs.”
Broncos will release popular veteran Kareem Jackson, but he could return
Nothing went as planned for the team captain this season in Denver. Jackson was fined four times, ejected twice, and suspended six games, costing him $925,000 in salary. When he returned from the first two-game ban, Jackson served as a starter. But when eligible to come back against the Patriots last Sunday, the 35-year-old had lost his job to P.J. Locke.
With no role on special teams after his lengthy absence, the Broncos elected not to activate him, a clear disappointment.
Jackson has started eight games this season, posting two interceptions. Teammates criticized the NFL for Jackson’s discipline. Locke wore a “Free Kareem” T-shirt in warmups a few weeks ago that was auctioned off for charity at Pat Surtain II’s foundation event. Justin Simmons considers Jackson a brother and mentor.
“For the biggest reason, you can’t replace his leadership and the intangibles that he brings,” Simmons told Denver7 a week ago. “Obviously, he’s a heck of a player on the field. But I think P.J. would be the first to tell you that the reason he has played so well is because of the knowledge that Kareem has passed down. The reason JMac (Ja’Quan McMillian) has come in and played pretty much like the defensive player of the year for us has been because of a guy like Kareem.”
NFL upholds Kareem Jackson's four-game suspension
Jackson made a significant impact through his community events, like Thanksgiving food giveaways, Jackaclaus Christmas shopping with kids and his cancer benefit dinner.
While admitting he needed to do a better job of lowering his target on tackles, Jackson felt singled out by the league this season. He met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during his most recent suspension, but left confused by the message that it was his job to “protect myself, protect the receiver and make a play.”