Patriots’ J.C. Jackson Could Jump to AFC Rival, Says Analyst

J.C. Jackson Patriots

Getty Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson will be a highly-coveted free agent.

The New England Patriots could lose their top free agent to one of their biggest rivals.

According to Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, the Baltimore Ravens could be a “dark-horse” destination to sign cornerback J.C. Jackson. The Patriots corner helped lead New England to the second-best pass defense in the league and ranked second in the NFL in interceptions (8).

“The Baltimore Ravens aren’t an obvious suitor because they have two standout cornerbacks in Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey,” says Knox. “It’s worth noting, though, that Peters (ACL) and Humphrey (pectoral) are both coming off of season-ending injuries.

Peters could be a potential cap casualty as well. He’s 29 years old, entering the final year of his contract and could generate $10 million in cap space if released.

Replacing Peters with the 26-year-old Jackson could be a tremendous long-term move for Baltimore. Even if the Ravens keep Peters for the final year of his contract, adding Jackson could be a wise defensive decision.

Teams can never have too many good defensive backs, as Baltimore discovered in 2021. After losing both Peters and Humphrey, the Ravens went on to finish the year ranked dead last in passing yards allowed.”

As Knox also notes, Jackson allowed just a 46.8 passer rating in coverage.

“Chandler Jones and Von Miller are terrific players, but Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson might be the best defender headed to market,” says Knox.

“The 2018 undrafted free agent has become a premier cover corner and was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2021. This season, Jackson logged a league-high 23 passes defended and eight interceptions while allowing an opposing passer rating of only 46.8 in coverage.”


Patriots’ Top Priority Will Be Re-Signing Jackson

The Patriots’ top priority this offseason will be re-signing Jackson. The 26-year-old is at the top of his game and literally just entering his prime. Despite New England trading former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore in the middle of the season, New England’s defense still played as well as they did in 2020 (they ranked seventh that season).

According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson’s 78.9 overall defensive grade ranked eighth among all corners, while his 80.4 coverage grade ranked seventh among all players at his position.

There’s little doubt that Jackson will have his pick of the litter. The young cornerback will arguably be the top defensive player on the market. According to Spotrac, Jackson’s market value is $20.9 million per season for a total of over $104 million across five seasons.

Such a contract would make Jackson the highest-paid corner in the league and the 27th-highest paid player in the NFL.

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Jackson Voices Desire to Remain With Patriots

Although the Patriots will face stiff competition from competing rivals — such as the Ravens — for the services of Jackson, the cornerback has publicly voiced his desire to re-sign with New England. Jackson stated the following back in November.

Via Mike Reiss of ESPN:

“I love playing for the New England Patriots, playing under Coach Belichick,” said Jackson. “I have grown as a football player since I’ve been here … It’s a place that gave me a chance from Day 1. I would love to be a New England Patriot for a long time.”

Considering the Patriots’ lack of depth at the position, re-signing Jackson — even if it’s for a lot of money over multiple years — is an absolutely necessity this offseason.

 

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