What happens to Patriots roster if JC Jackson gets franchise tag?

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 18: J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 18: J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots have a lot of roster question marks to address this offseason, but it won’t come easy as they have just $7 million in cap space to throw around, which ranks 19th in the NFL, according to Spotrac.

If there’s one plus side of the team getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs, it’s that Bill Belichick and the front office have had plenty of time to brainstorm potential solutions before the legal tampering period gets underway.

With the said, the Patriots can make their first offseason move starting on Tuesday, which marks the opening of the franchise tag window.

During this period, which runs through March 8, teams can make it so ONE player on an expiring contract can return for one season if negotiations on a potential multiyear extension fall by the wayside.

For the Patriots, JC Jackson figures to be a prime candidate to get franchise-tagged. It’s unclear what the team’s intentions are for the Pro Bowl corner, but let’s analyze what might happen to the roster if he’s tagged.

What happens to Patriots’ roster if JC Jackson gets franchise-tagged?

If the Patriots elect to have Jackson play on the franchise tag in 2022, they’ll have to pay him $17.5 million for the season.

It’s a steep price, but Joe Thuney, even though he left the following offseason, proved two years ago that it’s better to get an extra season out of a star than the alternative of letting him walk for nothing the second his rookie deal expires.

Of course, New England has work to do to afford Jackson’s tag number. In order to retain the former undrafted free agent, the likes of Jonnu Smith, Matt Judon, Hunter Henry and Nelson Agholor might see their contracts restructured.

In terms of cap hits, those players make up the four biggest on the 2022 payroll.

  • Judon: $16.5 million
  • Henry: $15 million
  • Agholor: $14.882 million
  • Smith: $13.691 million

Restructuring contracts sounds simple on paper, but the Pats need to be careful to not screw themselves on the cap front beyond 2022. For a team that has strangely struggled when it comes to manipulating the cap while other contenders exploit loophole after loophole, it could prove more difficult than some think.

Say Belichick and Co. make it work. What ramifications would that have on the rest of their offseason spending budget? With the team in need of a No. 1 receiver, another linebacker and an edge rusher to complement Judon, tagging Jackson might force the Pats to pinch their pennies on other positions.

Is that in their best interest? It honestly depends how many players are willing to rework their contracts, how many cuts Belichick makes, and whether the 69-year-old is more knowledgeable about how to manipulate the cap.

There are a ton of variables at play, but Patriots fans should know that tagging Jackson will have a domino effect on the rest of the roster.