2. Letting JC Jackson leave
It never felt like the Patriots were willing to pony up the necessary money to keep JC Jackson around, and that proved true when he signed with the Chargers in the early stages of the legal tampering period.
That’s part of what makes this an epic gaffe by the front office. Letting Jackson leave is one thing, but the fact he signed with a conference rival in the Chargers, who are now well ahead of the Patriots in the AFC pecking order, is beyond egregious.
Since he entered the league as an undrated free agent in 2018, Jackson has the second-highest coverage grade in man coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. The only player with a better grade is Stephon Gilmore, another premier corner whose contract demands fell on deaf ears by New England.
Jackson has 19 interceptions in man coverage alone during that span, which is somehow five more than the next-best player. Simply put, he’s one of the best defenders in the game and he will in all likelihood help Los Angeles fix their biggest pitfall from last season.
Jackson’s departure creates a gaping hole in the Pats’ secondary. It’s likely Belichick embraces a “strength in numbers” philosophy as it pertains to replacing the All-Pro defensive back and he better hope it works because $16.5 million annually for a top-five corner in the game feels like a steal on LA’s part.