Rick Smith on Kareem Jackson's future

Kareem Jackson and the Texans hope to finalize a deal that will keep him in Houston for 2015 and beyond. Jackson will enter free agency for the first time in his NFL career on March 10.

"He's a good guy, good in our locker room, good leader and player," general manager and executive vice president Rick Smith said Thursday. "He's one of those guys that we'd love to have around and we want to continue to have him in our building."

Jackson's impending free agency has many reflecting on his five seasons in Houston. The Texans starting cornerback's evolution on and off the field has impressed Smith.

"If you remember, he was an early-out junior, so he was a young guy when we drafted him. He learned how to be a pro. Didn't know how to do that when he walked through the door, so there were some things that he had to go through and learn, not only as player, but as a man his evolution, and so I've watched him grow as a person and as a player."

Much of Jackson's growth can be attributed to two-time Pro Bowler Johnathan Joseph. Since his arrival in 2011, Joseph demonstrated what it took to be a pro and how to prepare in the NFL. Jackson took notice and overcame a rocky start to become one of the league's top cornerback tandems with Joseph.

His hard work hasn't gone unnoticed.

"I've got an affinity for Kareem Jackson," Smith said. "I just like him as a man. I'm proud of him. I'm very proud of how he has matured over the course of his career."

Jackson amassed 57 tackles, 48 solo, 3 interceptions, and nine passes defensed during his 13 starts in 2014.

GM Rick Smith, head coach Bill O'Brien and numerous NFL hopefuls met with the media Thursday at the Combine.

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