Kareem Jackson was Clued in on A.J. Bouye Trade Well Before Broncos Pulled the Trigger
One of the key offseason decisions made by Denver Broncos' GM John Elway was to finally cut the cord with longtime standout CB Chris Harris, Jr. In the wake of Monday’s announcement that Harris had made the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2010s alongside Von Miller, it placed an onus on the man tasked replaced with replacing him — A.J Bouye.
Harris had all but punched his ticket out of town due to repeated finger-pointing, contract wrangles, and inconsistent performances throughout 2019. Due to Head Coach Vic Fangio’s fondness for Bouye's versatile skill-set, he had always been on the team's radar in the event of the Broncos moving on from Harris.
As far back as his time spent as the Chicago Bears' defensive coordinator, Fangio had coveted Bouye, principally because he saw him as a perfect fit for his zone-centric scheme.
Broncos S Kareem Jackson has cultivated somewhat of a big brother/little brother relationship with Bouye, due to their four years spent as teammates in Houston. Last week, Jackson spoke with Sandy Clough and Orlando Franklin on 104.3 The FAN to outline how his old friend can fill the void left by Harris' departure.
“With us losing Chris Harris, I think [Bouye] will step right in and he will be another veteran guy who will take over that role,” Jackson said.
It might come as somewhat of a blow to Harris to learn that the Broncos' top brass were already asking for information on his chosen replacement even before he packed his bags to join the L.A. Chargers. Jackson revealed that he had been asked about his previous teammate prior to Elway pulling the trigger on the Bouye trade.
“Man, I was very excited. Actually they asked me about him [Bouye] previous to making that move and I was kinda waiting to see what was gonna happen with it, or whatever," Jackson revealed. "Once they made the move, I was very excited because I know what he is capable of."
It's safe to assume Jackson's info helped assuage any concerns the team might have had in acquiring Bouye. This kind of open thinking in the front office, and the sharing of information with players, could set the Broncos up with a much-improved roster moving forward.
If the trade for Bouye proves itself on the field to be a substantial upgrade over an All-Decade player like Harris, it might well be a strategy that is here to stay for Elway.
The general consensus has been that the Broncos had grown tired of Harris' passive/aggressive shenanigans by the end and were keen to let him move on. Beyond that, it’s clear that the team brass also saw it as an opportunity to provide a better fit for Fangio's scheme along the way.
Furnishing Fangio with a bigger, more physical perimeter corner for only a fourth-round draft pick and manageable salary cap hit was an all-round good business decision.
“He’s a great fit in Vic’s system with his instincts, ball skills, toughness and ability to play in a defense that mixes coverages," Elway said via the team site after Bouye was acquired. "In addition to having the size on the outside to match up against larger receivers, A.J is an excellent tackler. He’s a complete corner who gives us what we need in both pass coverage and against the run.”
What happens next for the Broncos in free agency and the draft? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second and sign up for our free newsletter and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!
Elway’s statement was an expression of confidence that the Broncos had actively improved the roster, rather than just plugging a future hole. That kind of faith in Bouye is now reinforced by Jackson, who is likewise confident that he will be able to fit right in.
“You have a guy like A.J Bouye, in my opinion, is another big-time guy in this league. You know for me it’s no drop-off, the guy can do it all,” Jackson declared to The FAN. “He can do it all….he can play off [coverage]…he can press [coverage]. He can go follow if he needs to which I don’t think he will have to with us getting Bryce [Callahan] back healthy.”
Reconstructing the Broncos' cornerback position will depend heavily on the bond of communication built up during Jackson and Bouye's time spent together in Houston. As far as Jackson is concerned, the mental and physical faculties won’t be lacking when Bouye hits the field in 2020.
“I played with him, I think, for four years in Houston, and from day one that he came in you could see he had the tools. Took him no time to kinda come into his own as a pro and you know, apply himself,” Jackson said via The FAN.