The New England Patriots traded Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round pick earlier this month so that means the team should sign J.C. Jackson to a lucrative deal in the offseason, right?
Not so fast. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe says that deal is far from a foregone conclusion.
Patriots Aren’t a Lock to Re-Sign J.C. Jackson
Jackson is only 25 years old. In his first 50 games in the NFL, he has 19 interceptions. How good is that? Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders had just 17 in his first 59 contests.
When you combine Jackson’s age with his production, you’d think the Patriots would be eager to lock him up long-term. If you haven’t noticed, Bill Belichick and Co. don’t do what people expect them to do, perhaps even to their own detriment.
Howe touched on the subject in a recent article. He wrote:
Don’t view the trade of cornerback Stephon Gilmore as a slam-dunk sign the New England Patriots plan to re-sign J.C. Jackson. Those have been mutually exclusive situations for quite a while, and Jackson knows his market will be booming in free agency. Rival teams have thought highly of Jackson for a while and believe he’ll get the big deal that he’s seeking.
It appears the Patriots might not view Jackson as a legit No. 1 corner. If that’s the case, it’s even more bewildering why they wouldn’t accommodate Gilmore. Perhaps it’s that Belichick is determined not to splurge on the cornerback position because he believes its not as specialized as some other spots on the roster.
In any case, if Jackson is pried away from Foxborough in the offseason, the Patriots will need to find at least one corner (and maybe two) to retool the position.
Other Free-Agent CBs the Patriots Could Turn To in 2022
When you take a look at the corners currently scheduled to be free agents next year, Jackson looks like the best available. Other than him, there is Darious Williams from the Los Angeles Rams.
Williams is a little smallish at 5’9″, but he’s feisty and does a solid job opposite Jalen Ramsey. He had 5 interceptions in 2020, but none yet this season as he is headed for injured reserve. Williams is expected to return after three weeks.
Ahkello Witherspoon of the Pittsburgh Steelers hasn’t played much this season after being allowed to walk by the San Francisco 49ers. He doesn’t appear to be a strong option to step in to play a significant role for the Patriots, or any team that hopes to field a strong defense.
The Houston Texans’ Desmond King is a big and physical corner that the Patriots could be interested in signing. Again, he’s not No. 1 corner potential, but could add some solid depth. If you’re looking to draft for an answer, there are some interesting options.
Forget about LSU superstar Derek Stingley Jr. He’s likely to be a Top-5 pick. That said, a player like Florida’s Kair Elam or Georgia’s Derion Kendrick could be available toward the middle of the first round where New England could be selecting.
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