The various rumblings surrounding the New England Patriots and JC Jackson have fans headed straight to nowhere. Plus, this is Bill Belichick we’re talking about. There could be an idea of what he might do, but there’s no definitive answer until he pulls the trigger.
All of the scenarios concerning Jackson had been laid out for Patriots fans: franchise tag, contract extension, tag-and-trade, and straight up let him go.
Some insiders have remained fairly optimistic, suggesting Jackson will get tagged and New England will figure out whatever else is needed later down the road. Others believe the Patriots will work to shed enough cap to get their star player a new contract.
But arguably the most trusted Patriots insider? Not quite as bullish on the Patriots keeping Jackson at all.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss doesn’t like the Patriots chances of keeping JC Jackson
Here’s what ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote in his recent Patriots column about the situation with Jackson and how he believes it will play out:
"“The window for teams to assign the franchise tag on players has opened and extends to March 8, with cornerback J.C. Jackson the likely only candidate to strongly consider in New England. A tag would be a projected $17.3 million for the 2022 season. Unless the Patriots believe they have a strong tag-and-trade possibility, I rate the odds of them tagging Jackson as low.”"
Now, to be fair, Reiss said nothing about the Patriots finding out a way to sign Jackson to a long-term contract, but if he’s ruling out the franchise tag in such a confident manner, it’s a safe assumption he feels similarly about a larger investment over time. That is, unless New England figures out a way to get Jackson his money and limit his cap hit for the 2022 season.
The warning signs do exist for a parting of the ways, though, which puts Reiss’ prediction in lock-step with what’s happened. Jackson recently called out the Patriots for silence on the negotiation front and there’s expected to be far reaching interest in the veteran cornerback, who will be the best at his position on the open market. From a historical standpoint, Belichick doesn’t typically hand out payroll-consuming contracts like the one Jackson is projected to receive, and he just forced Stephon Gilmore out of town a few months ago due to the star’s displeasure with his contract situation in addition to the way the team was handling his injury. Belichick’s spending spree last offseason has also put the Patriots in a precarious situation with the salary cap, which will make it all the more difficult to get a deal done to their liking.
Though this isn’t necessarily a surprise, Reiss delivering the harsh truth certainly hits hard because he has his finger on the Patriots’ pulse arguably better than anyone else.