Malik Jackson, now a very, very rich man thanks to a $90 million contract from the Jacksonville Jaguars, said on Friday that it’s possible the Broncos could have kept him in Denver if they had offered a contract during training camp last year. Instead, he’s the recipient of the biggest free agent contract of the offseason so far.

Jackson joined Eric Goodman and Les Shapiro on Mile High Sports AM 1340 on Friday and said the reason he ultimately chose Jacksonville was not so much the money, but because of the team’s attitude in their pursuit of him.

“They came at me the hardest,” Jackson said. They kept showing love and that they really wanted me.”

They showed that love to the tune of $42 million guaranteed.

As for his former team, Jackson said that he would have been very tempted to sign a long-term deal with the Broncos had they offered one during training camp last year.

“I would have been really close,” he said, acknowledging that his agent probably would have advised against it. “But Denver is such a great city, and I do love it and I’d been there for four years.”

Instead, John Elway decided to wait and now Jackson is getting paid considerably more than he ever imagined – money he says will take care of his daughter.

The decision to not try and re-sign Jackson, along with fellow draft class members Brock Osweiler and Danny Trevathan, now looks a little bewildering to Denver Broncos fans.

So does Denver’s latest move, the addition of Mark Sanchez as quarterback. Jackson agreed, “as an outside observer” now, that he was surprised by what the team has done so far in free agency.

“I’m a little bewildered by it … but I think they’re getting ready to do big things.”

Denver has made big moves in free agency in the past, but much of that was predicated on having Peyton Manning as a recruiting tool. Now Elway will have to name drop Mark Sanchez.

As for the addition of Sanchez, Jackson said he would have been okay to hear that news were he still playing in Denver.

“He had a great college career, but not the best pro career. But sometimes it just takes one coach to turn a guy around,” Jackson said. “He’s proven.”

Jackson, too, is proven now. He’ll carry big expectations into Jacksonville. When Goodman and Shapiro asked him about the heightened expectations, he said he’s prepared.

“I can handle it … I’m not going to go out there and try and be anything I’m not.”

What he’s become is an elite pass rusher that will be joining a team that is on the rise. That was a key in his decision, as well – going from a Super Bowl winner to a team that hasn’t finished above .500 in eight years.

Jackson says he and his agent were keeping their eye on where the Jaguars are going, not where they have been.

As for what he’ll leave behind, he says he’ll always remember the picturesque nature of his first NFL home.

“The beautifulness of Denver, that drive to Dove Valley – driving west on Arapahoe and seeing those mountains,” that’s what Jackson will miss most.

Listen to the full interview, including his thoughts about facing the Broncos next year, in the podcast below…

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