Three years later, Jackson believes he won't survive the offseason in Jacksonville.
"In my mind, if I'm third or fourth on the depth chart making $14.5 million to $15 million, I don't see too much future for me in Jacksonville," Jackson said Wednesday, via The Florida Times Union. "I'm not trying to be a journeyman by any means. But it's a business and soon as you try to forget that then it's a rude awakening for sure."
Jackson's frank calculation makes sense. The Jags can cut him in the offseason to save $11 million on the salary cap, while only taking a $4 million cap.
The defensive lineman lost his starting gig last month and has seen his snaps dwindle in favor of surging rookie Taven Bryan. Instead of getting upset at being surpassed and staring at the prospect of being cut, Jackson is focusing on leadership qualities.
"You see guys go through things and handle it the right way," Jackson said. "You see older guys get pushed out of the league and you don't understand it but they're still fighting. For example, Peyton Manning when he got injured in Indy, but he was still teaching his guys and doing what he had to do to be a leader. I kind of learned that from him. I'm still trying to push guys and teach them. Whatever I'm going through doesn't matter, the team is more important."
Willingness to be a veteran leader and teacher will come in handy if Jackson is indeed cut. Putting on good film the next three weeks will also be important.
"With my situation, I'm playing for 31 other teams potentially," Jackson said. "I have to show these teams that I'm playing at a high level. I'm a pass rusher with one sack. So I have to show this team that I'm consistently still getting to the quarterback, but I'm just not finishing. So for me, I have to show a lot of people a lot of things about who I am and what I am and what I'm continuing trying to build for myself."
Jackson has just one sack after compiling eight last season, but he still gets pressure on the quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson has compiled 40 total pressures, which ranks tied for 11th among interior defenders (alongside $14-million-man Ndamukong Suh).
Jackson turns 29 in January, and, in a league that is constantly looking for players to disrupt the quarterback, could have a solid market if he's cut. Perhaps he wouldn't make the $13 million in base salary he would if Jacksonville holds on to him, but the defensive tackle won't go hungry either.