The NFL’s franchise tag window opened at 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday, and will run for exactly two weeks before it expires on March 8. When it comes to the New England Patriots, they have a ton of pending free agents, but cornerback JC Jackson is really the only one worthy of a franchise tag.
To keep Jackson around for another season, assuming he signs the tender, the Patriots will have to pony up $17.5 million.
Given New England only has $7.32 million in cap space, the price of the tag has fans worried about a potential breakup.
Jackson has been outspoken about wanting to return to Foxborough and the team’s lack of urgency to bring him back prompted the Pro Bowler to call them out in a Tuesday interview with Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston.
JC Jackson isn’t happy with the Patriots’ “silent” contract talks.
It’s always a bold move to take a blatant shot at Bill Belichick, but it’s hard not to sympathize with Jackson’s mindset here. If you performed like a top-five (if not higher) cornerback for a multiyear stretch, you’d be a little peeved your team didn’t resume extension negotiations the second the season ended.
Then again, that’s not how the Patriots typically go about their business. It’s not a universally beloved strategy by any means, but it’s not going anywhere.
After getting that monkey off his back, Jackson actually provided some fascinating insight during the interview, later saying that New England approached him about a fresh contract during the 2021 campaign.
The two sides didn’t reach an agreement, obviously, but Jackson isn’t letting any hard feelings fester. In fact, the lack of follow-up negotiations hasn’t dissuaded him from wanting to continue playing for the franchise.
"It was all positive things. I wanted to focus on ball at the time. I wanted to finish the season the right way. I didn’t really come back to them on it.I love the game. If they tag me, I’m gonna go out there and play."
It’s relieving to see cooler heads prevail here, but Jackson has every right to be offended he hasn’t heard from the Pats since the season ended.
While playing like a premier player at his position, the former undrafted free agent earned salaries of $480,000, $570,000 and $750,000, respectively, over the first three years of his career. Even his $3.38 million salary this past season was well below the market for a player of his caliber.
Over the last two seasons, Jackson’s 17 interceptions and 37 passes defended are the most in the NFL. In 2021, he was third among corners in quarterback rating allowed (52.4), per Pro Football Focus, made the Pro Bowl, and was named a second-team All-Pro.
Again, all accolades that are deserving of a new extension.
It’s tough to say whether these comments will benefit Jackson or contribute to his potential departure from the Patriots. We probably wouldn’t have said anything, as Belichick probably isn’t one to appreciate ultimatums, but Jackson has put all the pressure on New England.
Who knows? Maybe this will help get the ball rolling.