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Approaching 14th season, safety Kareem Jackson not ready to walk away from NFL

Kareem Jackson has already compiled a career of which most would be quite proud.

He turns 35 in April, and as he approaches free agency, Jackson still believes he offers value to a prospective team -- especially one expecting to contend for a title.

"Definitely, definitely. Year 14, obviously would love for the payday to be right," Jackson said during a Friday appearance on Good Morning Football. "I mean, I understand age and all that stuff, which is to me crazy when it comes to all that. If you're playing at a high level, you're playing at a high level, regardless of your age. I mean, definitely, I'd definitely love a chance to win a ring. Fourteen years, played in the playoffs a couple times, but to not have been in the playoffs the last four years, I would definitely love to be in a team that's a contender."

Jackson's age, which is advanced for the modern NFL, will likely limit his market. He's not in line to cash in, but with the belief he can still contribute, he's not about to walk away from the game he's played professionally since 2010.

"The window of opportunity as far as playing this game is not big," Jackson said. "I've always said as long as I can go run around and play at a high level, I'll play. Going into Year 14, I set a goal for myself to play 15, and I've been sticking to that."

Jackson began his career in Houston, where he enjoyed the thrill of playoff football in five of his first nine NFL seasons before moving on to Denver with the hopes of improving his chances of winning a title. Instead, he played for a Broncos defense that ranked 10th in points allowed per game in 2019, then struggled to find similar success in 2020 before returning to the upper half of the league in the last two seasons.

All the while, Denver never came all that close to legitimately contending, finishing with a losing record in each of his four seasons spent with the Broncos. They're again working toward proving they're worthy of high expectation in 2023 after their first season with Russell Wilson proved to be more nightmarish than dreamlike.

Jackson likely won't be a part of it, unless he accepts a deal to return to a team that isn't guaranteed to reach the playoffs in 2023.

Instead, Jackson is expected to test the free-agent market with the hopes he finds a suitor seeking a veteran presence on the back end of its defense. Jackson's production has varied in recent years, with the veteran registering the second-worst overall Pro Football Focus defensive grade of his career in 2021 before improving slightly in 2022.

Age and a lack of buzz should make for an interesting, if not thin market for the veteran. But that isn't deterring Jackson from pursuing a 14th NFL season. We'll see where he lands in the coming weeks -- or months.

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