When J.C. Jackson signed with the Chargers after the 2021 season in free agency, it was a devastating loss to the Patriots secondary, who would eventually also lose Stephon Gilmore via trade later that year. The young cornerback had become a pillar of the defense, having the best season of his career, which allowed him to chase the money out west.
It was another loss that felt avoidable by Bill Belichick, who has become known for not dishing out the big bucks for any player, not even Tom Brady.
Fortunately, the Patriots were able to find solid players to make up for the losses of Gilmore and Jackson and then added a potential generational talent by selecting Christian Gonzalez in the 2023 draft. But after the rookie went down with a season-ending injury, Belichick made a move that wasn't totally unexpected and completely welcomed.
He traded for J.C. Jackson to come back to New England.
It was almost an admittance of a mistake that he made just one year ago but could also be viewed as a mistake by Jackson as well. His short stint in Los Angeles was forgettable and apparently tumultuous. Things between the cornerback and the team never seemed to click from the beginning and only got worse as the months went on.
It was clear that Jackson wasn't going to thrive in the system the Chargers had, which led to multiple benchings and an alleged "lackadaisical" attitude that didn't sit well with coaches or teammates. It all culminated in the Chargers being open to trading Jackson for just sixth and seventh-round picks after making him one of the highest-paid players on their team.
His tenure with the team was so chaotic that Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco allegedly set up a meeting with the team to apologize for ever signing Jackson in the first place, acknowledging the mistake to have kept him as long as they had as well.
"Telesco told the group that signing Jackson was a mistake, according to multiple team sources. He apologized for continuing to give Jackson opportunities, despite Jackson routinely showing that he wasn’t as committed as the rest of the team while being one of the Chargers’ highest-paid players.
Telesco called the move a “swing and a miss.”
The apology was a shocking admission, but Telesco’s points weren’t a secret in the organization."
It's quite a thing for a general manager to do, especially for it to be leaked to the media. It was clear the pairing of Jackson and the Chargers wasn't going to work, but it didn't seem deeper than a difference in playing style. This makes it seem it was far more problematic behind the scenes than anyone thought.
Fortunately for the Patriots, they lucked out by bringing back their homegrown talent, who has (for the most part) been an excellent addition to the defense this season.
Once the rest of the secondary is healthy, it's hard not to be excited about the Gonzalez, Jackson, Marcus, Jack, and Jonathan Jones cornerback room next year. It could end up being one of the best groups in the entire league, which is one of the very few things we can look forward to next year at the moment.