The rumor mill is churning at an unbelievable pace at this year’s NFL combine.
With a collection of agents, players, and front office executives deals are already being figured out ahead of free agency kicking off in earnest on March 16.
One nugget that leaked out connected the New York Jets to one of the top free agents available.
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An All in Kind of Move
The simplest way to get used to the temperature of the water is by diving into the deep end of the pool.
It sure sounds like the Jets are adopting that strategy as they look ahead to the start of the new league year on March 16.
uStadium said on Twitter that they spoke with an AFC scout who thinks the Jets will be one of two teams “who’d be at the front of the line” for New England Patriots cornerback JC Jackson.
It seems like the closer and closer we get to free agency the less likely it appears that the Patriots will slap the franchise tag on Jackson.
If that indeed comes to fruition, the Jets along with the Las Vegas Raiders plan on aggressively pursuing the talented cornerback.
Jackson is only 26 years old and won’t turn 27 until the middle of next season.
According to a variety of reports he wants to secure the bag in free agency. Mike Giardi of NFL Network suggested he is looking for top-five cornerback money.
Although the latest projections from Spotrac estimates that Jackson will reset the cornerback market with an annual salary of $20.9 million. That would make him the highest-paid corner in all of football, beating out Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams ($20 million per season).
Spotrac believes the full contract would be a five-year deal worth over $104 million.
Some Concerns Raised
That would be a lot of scratch for any player, but Jackson certainly has the production to back it up.
In four seasons he has registered 25 picks, over 53 pass deflections, and he has been incredibly durable with only three games missed in his career, all of which came during his rookie season.
How good is that? Since entering the league in 2018 no one has had more interceptions than the player affectionately known as “Mr_INT” on Twitter.
While everything seems ideal on paper from an age, production, and premium positional value standpoint, some still have some serious questions heading into free agency.
“I’ve heard some concerns with Jackson that he can be the type of player that gets that big payday and kind of starts to slow down a little. I don’t think to the extreme that you saw with Trumaine Johnson but I’ve heard that maybe he is a little externally motivated by money and once you get the money, what happens to you after that?”
It is worth noting that Jackson originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2018 out of Maryland.
So far in his four-year professional career, Jackson has earned a total of $5.7 million in career earnings, per Spotrac.
It would certainly make sense that Jackson is seeking that elusive big payday to get what he has earned.
As DJ Bien-Aime of the New York Daily News noted on Twitter “there is nothing wrong” with playing the game of football for the money.
You can’t predict these things and how someone will react to receiving life-altering money in free agency.
However, when you look at what the Jets are missing on defense, Jackson checks off every single box. He is young, fills a key position of need, and is an absolute ball-hawk. This could be the No. 1 cornerback the Jets have been searching for since the Darrelle Revis days.
If you were ever going to risk it to get the biscuit in free agency, Jackson sure sounds like the guy worth gambling on.