Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson was found guilty of simple assault (misdemeanor assault) on Monday for punching a pizza delivery driver back in February 2015. The recent guilty verdict now puts Jackson in murky water with the NFL. The league now has the authority to suspend Jackson under its personal conduct policy. With the Colts’ inside linebacker depth already thin, this is the last thing the team needed.
Jackson is currently in the midst of a four-year, $22 million deal he signed with the Colts in 2014. In his first two seasons with the team, Jackson was certainly the team’s best linebacker. He has racked up 317 combined tackles and seven sacks during that time span. He has not missed a game for the Colts yet, but he will most likely miss a few in 2016 because of his recent assault charge.
Assault is a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, and it usually leads to a suspension. The length of the punishment will vary based on the situation. Even though Jackson’s violation was technically a misdemeanor assault, it would not be surprising if he was still suspended for two to four games. Losing Jackson for a couple of games will really hurt the Colts in 2016, especially when they are currently lacking depth at inside linebacker.
With Jerrell Freeman joining the Chicago Bears, the Colts could be starting the 2016 season with two new inside linebackers. Among the remain candidates on the roster, Nate Irving and Sio Moore are the only players with starting experience. Irving started 12 games in four seasons with the Denver Broncos before starting two games for the Colts in 2015. Meanwhile, Moore started 22 games in two seasons with the Oakland Raiders but played sparingly for the Colts last season. With these two being their only viable options to back up or play alongside Jackson, the Colts are not in a good situation.
Indy will look for an inside linebacker during free agency or in the draft, but it will not change the fact that they could lose Jackson for a couple of games. A suspension for Jackson should be announced after his sentencing on Apr. 6. The NFL usually lets the legal process play out before handing out any suspensions or fines, but the Colts better hope his suspension is a short one.