4 contracts holding the Patriots back right now

Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots / Billie Weiss/GettyImages
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The Patriots are one of the fortunate teams heading into this offseason with a lot of cap space to spend on free agents to improve their team before the upcoming draft. That means they won't be forced to keep players who don't make their team much better, especially if they cost a pretty penny.

That has been the case in recent years, mainly due to Bill Belichick's reluctance to spend money more wisely on players who can uplift any of the three units. But with good positioning in the upcoming draft and one of the highest cap spaces in the league, Jerod Mayo can kick off the new league year by making a big splash by signing some top players.

The new head coach could also create even more space by cutting players who will have the biggest hit on the 2024 budget. At least four will likely be considered as cut candidates this offseason for one reason or another, but their paycheck will undoubtedly be the focus.

J.C. Jackson - cornerback

2024 Cap hit: $14,375,000
Potential out in 2024: $0 in dead cap

When the Patriots traded for J.C. Jackson early last season, it was a universally exciting move for most fans since they never wanted to see the cornerback leave in free agency to begin with. Bill Belichick made the move after Marcus Jones suffered a season-ending injury, and the cornerback room needed some help.

So why not call your former star secondary player who just happened to be available?

Everything seemed dandy until Jackson wasn't performing as we remembered during his first stint with New England. Things were a bit chaotic the rest of the season, and although he could become that guy again, his contract may be too high to risk it.

Last season, the Chargers footed most of his contract, but now that the entirety of his $14.3 million salary is on New England's shoulders, it may be time to release or trade Jackson to save some cap space.

Fortunately, when the Chargers agreed to a contract with him in 2022, they ensured they had an out after two seasons. Now that we're in the 2024 offseason, the Patriots can release Jackson without taking on any dead cap this year or through the remaining years of his contract.

It seems like a no-brainer unless they believe he can be an asset in the secondary, which is possible with Alex Austin, Myles Bryant, and Jalen Mills heading to free agency.