Patriots insider speculates JC Jackson could still be traded

Patriots CB JC Jackson (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Patriots CB JC Jackson (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Fans in New England were treated to big news last week when cornerback JC Jackson officially signed his second-round tender, seemingly locking him up with the Patriots for one more year before he hits unrestricted free agency next offseason.

While Jackson signing his tender forbids other potential suitors from signing him to an offer sheet, which the Patriots could have matched or let him go for a second-round pick, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a lock to be on the roster for the start of next season.

After all, teams can still offer lower than a second-rounder to try and trade for the former undrafted talent.

Such a deal would likely come with a contract extension, as any buyer likely wouldn’t give up assets for Jackson without the assurance he’d be with them long term.

It remains to be seen what the Patriots intentions are with Jackson, but NBC Sports Boston insiders Phil Perry and Tom Curran both believe a trade isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

The Patriots could still trade cornerback JC Jackson this offseason.

Perry and Curran understandably likened Jackson’s situation to that of Malcolm Butler from several years ago, though fans will remember that those situations aren’t entirely parallel, as Butler signed his restricted free agent tender and played out the 2017 season on that salary.

However, after an inconsistent finish to the campaign that was punctuated with him being benched in the Super Bowl, the two-time champion was released and ultimately signed a five-year, $61 million contract with the Titans as a free agent.

The Patriots discussed shipping Butler to New Orleans in a sign and trade during the 2017 offseason, and all signs pointed to a deal coming to fruition. A trade eventually materialized between the two teams, but it involved New England acquiring wideout Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick in exchange for a first and third-rounder.

Could the same thing happen with Jackson?

As Curran noted, there are similarities in Butler and Jackson’s games, as both players are undersized for the cornerback position and have questionable ceilings.

However, it would be downright foolish of New England to give up on Jackson this early in his career, especially if they have to settle for something less than a second-round pick.

While we understand there are question marks about whether Jackson has No. 1 cornerback potential, and cashing in on him would be smart if the Patriots have zero intentions of locking him down long term, can they at least revisit trading him at the 2021 deadline if he underperforms?

Perhaps the Patriots have made up their mind about targeting a CB in the NFL Draft, but the premise remains the same: trading a budding star in Jackson who’s fresh off a career year and has the potential to be a cornerstone of the defense moving forward would be difficult to justify after they spent the entire offseason upgrading the roster.