Raiders Dodged Bullet by Not Signing $82.5 Million All-Pro Free Agent

jc jackson

Getty Los Angeles Chargers CB J.C. Jackson.

With Nate Hobbs heading to the Injured Reserve, the Las Vegas Raiders secondary could be in trouble. This offseason, the team was linked to a number of big-name free agent cornerbacks but didn’t end up making any notable moves. One player the team notably missed out on was former New England Patriots All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson.

He seemed like a perfect fit considering the Raiders hired former Patriot assistants Josh McDaniels and Patrick Graham as head coach and defensive coordinator. They also hired former New England executive Dave Ziegler as general manager. Jackson was a logical player to target considering his dominance in that system. However, the Los Angeles Chargers came in and offered Jackson $82.5 million, which he ended up accepting.

It’s looking like that was the best thing that could’ve happened to Las Vegas. In four games this season, Jackson has earned a 29.6 Pro Football Focus grade, which is the second worst in the NFL among eligible cornerbacks. He’s been so bad that Chargers head coach Brandon Staley had to bench him in the second half of the Week 6 game against the Denver Broncos in favor of Michael Davis.

“It just wasn’t good enough in the first half, and we felt like we needed to make a change,” Staley said of Jackson Sunday. “Mike gave us a chance in the second half.”

It’s still early in his Chargers’ tenure but it’s hard to imagine they aren’t starting to have a bit of buyer’s remorse.

Did Raiders Know Jackson Was Overvalued?

The Raiders didn’t appear too interested in Jackson this offseason which was odd considering the need for a cornerback. It’s now starting to make sense in hindsight. McDaniels and Ziegler had a close look at the cornerback in each of his first four years. He was excellent for the Patriots but Bill Belichick has a knack for getting the best out of cornerbacks. Johnathan Jones was an undrafted free agent and Jack Jones is a rookie fourth-round pick but both are among PFF’s top-10 cornerbacks this season.

Ziegler and McDaniels know well that Belichick works magic with cornerbacks and must have figured that Jackson was a product of the system. That inside knowledge may have saved the Raiders from spending a ton of money on a cornerback who isn’t as good as previously thought.

Chargers Still Think Jackson Can Be Impact Player

Through six weeks, there are a few AFC West contracts that were handed out this offseason that are looking bad in hindsight. The Raiders gave Chandler Jones $51 million and he doesn’t have a sack yet, the Broncos gave Russell Wilson $242 million and he looks like a shell of himself and the Chargers gave Jackson $82.5 million and he’s looked like one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL. Unfortunately for all three teams, they are going to have to make it work with those players.

The Chargers are not ready to give up on Jackson yet.

“He came here to press, that’s what he’s been doing most of the time for us, pressing,” Staley said, via “Now, there are some times where you can’t press, where a team that gets into a bunch of cut splits, they can really affect your leverage on the formation. Sometimes you want to play off [coverage], just like every defense in the NFL. You can’t press every split because it’s going to put you in a disadvantage. He came here to do the job that he was designed to do. His performance, it has nothing to do with that, fitting in or scheme fit or any of that. He’s here to do what he does best. We need to make sure that we continue to work with him so that he’s focused, consistent and being the player that we know he can be.”

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