5 intriguing New England Patriots storylines that will define 2022 offseason

New England Patriots. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
New England Patriots. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

No. 1: Will the New England Patriots pay J.C. Jackson?

When the New England Patriots traded Stephon Gilmore early in the 2021 NFL season, it became clear the team was moving forward with J.C. Jackson as their No. 1 cornerback.

Take away the brutal Wild Card loss to the Buffalo Bills in which Jackson played his worst game as a pro, the former undrafted rookie free agent lived up to the bill.

Not only did he help solidify the secondary, but he was also one of the NFL’s most dangerous ballhawks with 8 interceptions.  Set to hit free agency, Jackson has certainly set his market, but the question is will it be a market Bill Belichick would even compete in.

While both sides are complementary of one another at this point, the reality is some other team out there can swoop in and offer Jackson a contract he can’t refuse.  Unless Belichick and the Patriots come close to matching or slap the franchise tag on him, the team could find themselves without Gilmore and Jackson heading into the 2022 NFL season.

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That would be a nightmare occurrence for a Patriots team looking to get faster in deeper on all three levels of the defense.  Jackson is one of the few players the team can build around, but if the Patriots aren’t smart or Belichick plays hard ball, one of the team’s strengths could end up being a blaring weakness.

With young quarterbacks like Joe Burrow, Josh Allen and Justin Herbert on the rise, that is one area where Belichick and the Patriots’ defense don’t want to be at a disadvantage.

In other words, take care of business when it comes to J.C. Jackson.