The reaction to J.C. Jackson in New England has endured many variations over the last few years. When he first became a free agent in 2021, he was considered the top player that Bill Belichick needed to re-sign long-term. Because he was the top cornerback of the free agent class that year, he went where the money was and signed with the Chargers instead, looking like one of the bigger mistakes of Belichick's career.
But the story didn't end there.
Jackson had quite a tumultuous time on the West Coast, seeming to struggle with the new defensive scheme the Chargers had compared to the Patriots, where he consistently shined. He underwent ankle surgery in the offseason, forcing him to miss the entire preseason and season opener, and because of his struggles figuring out his new team, he was benched by Week 6.
He then suffered a non-contact, season-ending injury and because he was never able to be the player he was in New England, the Chargers traded him back to Foxboro in October of 2023.
Some of those same struggles carried over, and numerous off-the-field issues dominated the headlines during his return. Jackson was eventually placed on the reserve/non-football illness list in December due to personal problems he was dealing with, and it's unclear if we will see him suit up again for the Patriots.
He could be a great addition to the secondary under Christian Gonzalez and Jonathan Jones next year, but his contract would also open a lot of cap space for Jerod Mayo if he chooses to trade or cut him.
Much of the decision will likely boil down to Jackson's availability and how he performs if he can get back on the field. If he demonstrates similar play to what made him so successful during his first stint, there's no reason not to keep him. But if not, it feels like he will be elsewhere next year.