Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots appeared to turn over a new leaf last offseason, as they spent big money on Matthew Judon and Hunter Henry to make a run at the postseason with Mac Jones at quarterback. Would that carry over into 2022 with JC Jackson hitting free agency?
So far, the answer is a resounding no. The Patriots’ miserly ways came into focus when they lowballed lineman Ted Karras and allowed him to sign with the Bengals. Despite leading the league in interceptions and making it to the Pro Bowl, New England apparently saw no use for Jackson.
The Los Angeles Chargers, however, were more than willing to go all-in on Jackson and his penchant for creating turnovers. Jackson, who was a high school teammate of safety Derwin James, signed a five-year contract that is heavily frontloaded and worth $82.5 million. That’s right around what Darius Slay is making on a per-year basis.
This is an egregious mistake on the part of Belichick and the front office. Not only was Jackson allowed to leave New England, but a direct Wild Card competitor snatched him up. As Belichick weakens his roster in the name of flexibility, the AFC continues to get stronger around him.
The New England Patriots should have retained JC Jackson.
Even if you want to put teams like the Chiefs and Bills in a tier all their own, just look at what the playoff teams around New England have done so far. In addition to Jackson, the Chargers traded for Khalil Mack to pair him up with Joey Bosa. The Broncos upgraded at quarterback by trading for Russell Wilson.
Even though the Jets and Dolphins are not going to jump over them in the division, both teams have made nice moves. The Jets signed a Pro Bowl offensive lineman in Laken Tomlinson. Miami got a nice backup quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater while adding Cedrick Wilson and Chase Edmonds. New England has done … nothing.
The Patriots made the playoffs last season, but they needed to wait until the final weeks of the year to do so. With a dominant defense having lost their best player and a starting offensive lineman bolting for another AFC playoff team, the infrastructure around Jones is crumbling.
Jackson is one of the best defensive players of the game, and is entering his prime. Belichick letting him go and allowing him to fix one of the biggest weaknesses on a conference rival is the height of recklessness. New England better have an airtight plan to replace him or else the 2022 season won’t be kind to the Patriots or their fans.