Patriots: Projecting a long-term contract for JC Jackson

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 28: J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 28: J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots stumbled on a gold mine in the undrafted free agency market in 2018, as Maryland stud JC Jackson managed to somehow not earn a selection.

It didn’t take long for Jackson to establish himself as one of the league’s best cornerbacks opposite Stephon Gilmore.

Jackson has long been one of the most underrated players in the league.

While Gilmore took home a DPOY award in New England, it’s Jackson who has caused the most turnovers, picking off 17 passes over the last three seasons. His nine interceptions in 2020 made him the biggest Pro Bowl snub in the NFL this year.

Unfortunately, New England now has to decide if they want to keep Jackson around for the long haul. Not only is he in line for top cornerback money given his production, but New England has had a long history of allowing high-priced defensive stars to leave in free agency.

If Belichick is smart, however, he’ll realize how valuable Jackson is and why he needs to be re-signed. For an idea of what averaging just under six interceptions a year will earn you come contract time, New England should look at the Byron Jones and James Bradberry contracts from last offseason.

The Patriots will need to pay up for JC Jackson in restricted free agency.

Last offseason, Jones agreed to a five-year deal that saw him join the Miami Dolphins, while Bradberry signed a three-year contract that made him the main man with the New York Giants. Jones earns just over $16 million per season, while Bradberry’s contract pays him $14.5 million per year.

Jackson will likely command a contract that hovers somewhere around this range, making him one of the top-five highest-paid corners in the league and in the same neighborhood as Gilmore’s $16.2 million per year contract.

This offseason might be the perfect one for New England to lock up Jackson because they have the third-most cap space in the league. While improving the offense should be a priority, taking care of a young stud like Jackson that should have Pro Bowls in his future should also be extremely important for Belichick. Keeping his standout defense together is vital. And making sure you have a top cornerback for life after Gilmore is essential.

We’ve heard nothing about a Gilmore extension and though fans like what they see from Jonathan Jones, he simply cannot be the marquee name on the roster after the 2021 season. Secure Jackson, bring back Jason McCourty, and run it back next season. Then you don’t have to worry about chasing another position of paramount importance a year from now.

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