Rumor: Patriots connected to cornerback wanting a trade

LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 09: William Jackson III #3 of the Washington Commanders looks on against the Tennessee Titans during the first half of the game at FedExField on October 9, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 09: William Jackson III #3 of the Washington Commanders looks on against the Tennessee Titans during the first half of the game at FedExField on October 9, 2022 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

As the trade deadline is now only mere weeks away, teams around the NFL will be taking a look at their roster and players’ performances while also looking around the league at who they could possibly trade for. The Patriots are sure to make a move before November 1st, but the name floating around as the best fit for them may be a bit surprising.

After the shock of losing J.C. Jackson in free agency, a lot of skepticism surrounding the Patriots’ secondary became the hottest of topics, particularly the lack of cornerbacks on the team. With only Jalen Mills left as a true corner, concerns grew about the success of a generally stronger area on the defense.

Come draft time, a clear effort to improve the defensive backfield was made when Bill Belichick selected Marcus and Jack Jones in back-to-back rounds. The coach also tested several different players throughout the preseason practices and games and throughout it all, Jalen Mills appeared to be the CB1 heading into the regular season.

The defense was the dominant side of the football throughout the summer and that continued into week one and beyond. Not only have the pass rushers been getting to opposing quarterbacks with ease, but the secondary has been shutting down some of the top receivers in the league. From trusted veterans like Jonathan Jones to rookies like Jack Jones, the defensive backfield has been impressive more and more each week, making it seem like the least likely area that Belichick would be looking to add to.

However, the current rumor circulating links Commanders’ cornerback William Jackson III to the Patriots.

In recent days, it was reported by Mike Garafolo, Tom Pelissero, and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network that Jackson was looking for a fresh start with a new team that will better utilize his skillset.

"“Once a key cog in the Commanders’ secondary, Jackson is not frustrated specifically with the team.Rather, he considers himself more of a man-to-man cornerback and Washington has run a lot of zone thus far. When Jackson signed, he envisioned himself as a true lockdown corner, covering a team’s top receiver. It hasn’t worked out that way.Now, Jackson could find himself with a new home.”"

Since the news broke, the Commanders have reportedly begun exploring trade possibilities for the former first-round pick. Speculation about where he could land started to pick up, with one analyst citing who he deems as the best fit.

According to Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire, New England is one team that makes the most sense for the six-year veteran regardless of how well their secondary has been performing so far this season.

"“This is the obvious answer anytime there’s a good man cornerback potentially on the open market, and for good reason. Bill Belichick and his staff have a long history of making the most of man cornerbacks in their schemes — rookie Jack Jones is but the most recent example. Interestingly enough, the Patriots have three cornerbacks this season — Jack, Jonathan, and Marcus — who have played very well in New England’s high rate of man coverage. But as the Patriots have allowed four touchdowns to just one interception in man coverage this season, per Sports Info Solutions, why not add a Jackson to the mix?”"

Although the Patriots aren’t necessarily in need of another cornerback, there are a few factors that Belichick should strongly consider when looking at Jackson.

Adding another immediately impactful player would benefit the defense as a whole. Not only that, but both outside corners Jonathan Jones and Mills have suffered injuries this season and Jackson’s addition would add security to that unit. It would also give more freedom to Belichick to move Jones around from the outside to the slot more often if needed.

A big selling point could also be Jackson’s contract status, as he signed a three-year, $42 million contract during the 2021 offseason. The contract is said to be front-loaded with the Commanders paying nearly half the amount already. This would make Jackson’s acquisition only a $3.8 million hit to this year’s cap if traded for this week.

The biggest question facing the Patriots if they do show interest in making the trade would be what the Commanders are expecting in return. And what are the Patriots willing to give up?

Because Jackson is days away from turning 30 years old, it’s possible the Commanders won’t be expecting top talent from any team considering making the trade. Washington has a lot of issues to straighten out with their roster and could benefit from several different positions being added to their team, or adding more future draft picks. If the price is right and the Patriots feel comfortable, acquiring Jackson seems like a no-brainer.