Patriots cornerback JC Jackson is among the most underrated in the NFL.
JC Jackson wasn’t at his best on Monday Night Football against the New York Jets, but the New England Patriots cornerback has emerged as one of the best in the NFL and has now recorded an interception in four straight games.
Most fans know by now that the 25-year-old will be a restricted free agent in the offseason, and that could be a problem for Bill Belichick, who needs to figure out what to do with Stephon Gilmore after 2020. As an RFA, teams can make offers to Jackson, which the Patriots will be permitted to match, but if they don’t, Jackson is likely gone.
The one solution is attaching a draft pick to Jackson in the form of a first- or second-round tender, but one thing’s certain: even with that possibility, Jackson is beginning to price himself out of New England based on the way the Patriots do business.
While Jackson did give up two touchdowns against the lowly Jets and Breshad Perriman, he secured an interception late in the fourth quarter that keyed the Patriots comeback win, and he leads the NFL with five picks.
Some might say he was “exposed” because Gilmore was once again out with an injury, but Jackson played just fine against the Bills last week. Everybody has a bad game here and there. Jackson’s overall body of work speaks for itself, and even during a career-worst night, he still managed to make a big play to save the Pats.
This is his third NFL season. Of course he’s not a No. 1 corner yet. But he’s shown that he’s capable of becoming that someday, and there’s no doubt another team on the cusp of contention or in need of that final piece in the secondary won’t hesitate to attempt to out-bid the Patriots in the offseason assuming he doesn’t have a high tender attached to him — and even if he does, we’re sure Belichick would much rather let a team pay all that money and give him a top draft pick.
But the reality is that he’ll likely have a first-round tender attached to his name, which is expected to keep him in New England for one more season. But the Pats can’t keep holding him hostage like that, and if he has a stellar 2021, then fans can expect to see him leave for a lucrative multi-year deal.
The Patriots’ biggest splurge in quite some time came in the form of a five-year, $65 million contract for Gilmore. Given their overall tendency not to offer those kinds of contracts unless we’re talking bonafide stars, that’s why we can expect Jackson not to remain with the team beyond 2021 if he largely remains effective and keeps forcing turnovers.