The New England Patriots‘ cornerback situation isn’t ideal, and if recent reports prove to be true, the position could become even more of a question mark in 2022.
Cornerback J.C. Jackson is set to be a free agent at the end of the season. While he has put up insane coverage-effectiveness stats and interceptions through his first three seasons in the NFL, the Patriots have been seemingly reluctant to lock him up in a long-term deal.
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Part of the hesitancy is normal considering the team hasn’t had to make an aggressive move to throw a multi-year deal Jackson’s way. However, with the team trading Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers earlier this month, it seems there should be a sense of urgency to lock Jackson up if the team believes he can be a No. 1 CB.
While appearing as a guest on WEEI’s Gresh and Keefe, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport said this of Jackson’s current and future standing with the Patriots:
I would say there is a possibility [of being traded]. I don’t consider it a great one because he’s a very good player, he’s on a cheap contract. And theoretically, the Patriots could keep him next year, too. Of all the scenarios you laid out, to me personally, I am not saying nothing can happen, but to me a long-term deal probably seems the least likely. But, a franchise tag is possible. The Patriots could end up keeping him. I don’t know that he’s definitely gone because he is a very good player and the quality of player to warrant a franchise tag. I don’t know that the Patriots are really in the mindset of giving up really good, young, still relatively cheap players. If the season was lost and they definitely weren’t going anywhere, maybe. I just don’t quite get they are in that mode now.
Could the Patriots seemingly devaluing Jackson lead to a tough situation for the defense in 2022?
Patriots Could Have an Entirely Different Look at CB in 2022
If Jackson bolts for greener pastures, the Patriots will have to turn to the trade and/or free-agent market to find their starting corners. There is a good chance Jonathan Jones will come back next season following the rehab of his shoulder injury to be a starter.
Besides him, there aren’t any players currently on the roster who seem like legitimate starting corners. Quite honestly, Jones feels like a guy better suited for covering slot receivers than bigger, more physical guys.
With that as the case, it stands to reason New England will covet a legit stud at corner out of the 2022 NFL draft.
Expect the Patriots to Draft a CB High in April
Walter Football ranks LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. as the top CB prospect in the upcoming draft. The Patriots’ ability to draft him hinges on where they finish in the standings. If the Patriots are a playoff team, they may not be in range for Stingley, who could be a Top-5 selection.
If that’s the case, they may need to look at prospects like Penn State’s Tariq Casto-Fields, Washington’s Trent McDuffie or Alabama’s Josh Jobe.
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