New England Patriots butchering J.C. Jackson extension talks again

J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots are already looking their biggest problem of the offseason right in the face. Star cornerback J.C. Jackson is just a couple of weeks away from reaching free agency, and time is running out for him and the Pats to reach an extension. Failing to re-sign him would be a huge blow to the defense and the team as a whole.

Jackson is the key piece in New England’s offseason plans. They can use a large chunk of their salary cap on giving him an extension and ensuring he’s the leader of their secondary for the foreseeable future. Or they can let him walk and use the money they would have spent on him on other areas of the roster. Whichever route they choose will have serious repurcussions on how the offseason unfolds in New England.

Up until recently, it seemed like there was a 50-50 chance Jackson would return to the Pats. That was until yesterday, when Jackson claimed to the media that he thinks the Patriots “feel like they don’t need me”, and that he hadn’t had in-depth negotiations with the team yet. For those hoping Jackson gets signed to a long-term extension, this isn’t a good sign.

Despite Jackson clearly being the New England Patriots top pending free agent, the team has apparently made no effort in retaining him. The likelihood of Jackson re-signing before free agency is long gone now, and unless he gets assigned the franchise tag, he’s probably a goner. Bill Belichick‘s negotiation tactics have backfired before, and it looks like he’s running the risk of having that happen again here with Jackson.

The New England Patriots can’t afford to let J.C. Jackson leave for nothing

This quote from Jackson has quickly caught the attention of pretty much anyone who follows the NFL. Jackson is the best cornerback set to hit the open market, and if other teams see that New England isn’t really pursuing him, they are probably going to begin plans to pursue him themselves. Some teams may not be able to afford Jackson, but if he hits the open market, he’s going to get paid a large amount of money.

New England’s options in terms of retaining Jackson have quickly been reduced to virtually nothing. At this stage of the game, it seems like the only thing that would keep Jackson in Foxboro, MA is the franchise tag, and there’s no guarantee Belichick is willing to use that. The franchise tag for cornerbacks is projected to come in at $17.295 million, which is a huge amount of money for the Pats salary cap to absorb.

But right now, franchising Jackson seems like the only plausible option. If they haven’t negotiated a new deal with him yet, that probably means they either don’t intend to or are going to franchise him. He’s already voiced his displeasures with how the process has been handled so far, so what makes you think he would return if he has the opportunity to get more money from another team?

The franchise tag comes with a huge cap hit, yes, but the goal would be to make sure that Jackson doesn’t have to play the 2022 season on it. If tagged, Jackson wouldn’t be able to hit free agency, giving New England exclusive negotiating rights with him. Maybe that’s why there is a delay at this point, but one can only wonder.

Even if they don’t necessarily want to re-sign Jackson, franchising him gives the team the option to trade him to another team that is willing to give him the deal he’s looking for. The return probably wouldn’t be the maximum value they could have gotten from moving Jackson. but something is better than nothing, which is the alternative solution here.

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It initially didn’t seem that likely that the New England Patriots would franchise Jackson coming into the offseason, but it’s becoming an increasingly likely outcome at this point. Then again, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Belichick let him go and avoid giving him a pricy new deal in order to invest in some cheaper players instead. It was 50-50 beforehand, and while the chances he returns are lower now, it still isn’t completely out of the picture.

Jackson earned his reputation as a true number one cornerback last season, and now he wants to get paid like one (rightfully so). But the Patriots clearly need to revamp their roster, and issuing a huge deal to Jackson may not be a part of their plans. Whatever their plans may be, letting Jackson go would be a huge loss for the defense, and the front office should think twice before letting him walk away for nothing.