Jets Dodged Bullet by Avoiding $82.5 Million All-Pro Free Agent

JC Jackson, Chargers

Getty Los Angeles Chargers cornerback JC Jackson warming up ahead of an NFL game.

The New York Jets made a clear decision this past offseason to upgrade their cornerback room.

Gang Green was aggressive in free agency and the 2022 NFL draft to bring in some juice. DJ Reed got $33 million on the open market and Sauce Gardner was the No. 4 overall pick in the first round.

Although they almost pulled the trigger on another move that would have likely sunk their ship.

Jets Dodged Bullet by Avoiding JC Jackson in Free Agency

There were a lot of whispers that the Jets were going big-name hunting to fix their cornerback issues.

Dan Graziano of ESPN said the Jets “seem like the one team that might break the bank” at the position this past offseason. In that same column, he dropped two names to watch including JC Jackson formerly of the New England Patriots.

Ultimately the Jets went in a different direction and signed Reed instead.

Jackson joined the Los Angeles Chargers on a five-year deal for over $82.5 million and featured $40 million in total guarantees.

He was one of the best corners on the market and was projected to be a superstar lockdown guy.

However, through the first six weeks of the 2022 NFL season, he has been anything but.

Jackson has registered a 29.6 overall grade and a 28.9 coverage grade from the folks over at Pro Football Focus so far this season.

He was so bad in fact that the Chargers benched him during the Week 6 Monday Night Football game versus the Denver Broncos.

Connor Hughes of SNY said despite what you may have heard the Jets “never wanted” Jackson “and you’re seeing why now.”

He then said, “can’t even say bullet dodged considering NYJ weren’t even in the room when the gun went off.”

General manager Joe Douglas didn’t seem like the type of guy that would throw around that kind of money in free agency and ultimately he chose not to. That decision is looking pretty good right now.

Ghost of Trumaine Johnson Looms in Jets Past

The Jets have made similar mistakes in the past.

In 2018 the Jets also decided to go big fish hunting in the cornerback market. Gang Green invested over $72.5 million in then-free agent corner Trumaine Johnson.

The Jets reset the market and hoped they found their new top corner. Instead, they discovered an absolute disaster.

Across two seasons he played in 17 total games and proved to be a huge liability:

  • 50.3 coverage grade via PFF (2019)
  • Only had one interception

Fortunately, the Jets avoided repeating history by going in a much different direction this offseason.

Hughes said there were a lot of red flags with JC Jackson, but there haven’t been any of those issues with the current Jets cornerback tandem.

This offseason the Jets were hoping to find one top corner, instead, they found two.

Reed and Sauce have easily been the best 1-2 punch the Jets have had at cornerback since Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie were patrolling the secondary.

If they can continue that level of play this team is going to have every opportunity to smash their NFL active playoff drought that is 11 seasons and counting.

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