One of the biggest, if not the biggest question of the New England Patriots offseason is what they will do with top cornerback J.C. Jackson, who is looking to get paid once he hits free agency.
As the team has not yet reached out to Jackson to begin negotiations, the Pro Bowl cornerback is feeling a bit anxious and well…not feeling the love.
“I guess they feel like they don’t need me,” Jackson said. “I guess I can’t be that important to them. I know I am, but they’re not showing me.”
Look at Jackson, getting all into his feelings because the New Patriots aren’t showing him attention. He must had thought head coach Bill Belichick would call him every day to say he wants him back and Steve Belichick would be texting heart emojis incessantly.
Someone needs to sit Mr. Int down and hit him with a dose of reality. There’s a difference between the Patriot Way on the field and off. New England is very business-like when it comes to building a team. They have their values for players and/or positions and they stick to it very rigidly.
Sometimes they pay market value, but those deals usually don’t come easy. If they don’t believe a player is worth it, whether he becomes too expensive or not worth market value, they’ll move on. Don’t take it personally.
Jackson should find out very soon how much the Patriots value him. Either New England believes they can reach a deal without franchise tagging him, they tag him and hammer out a deal, let Jackson play 2022 under the franchise tag, let him walk to the highest bidder, or tag Jackson and trade him.
Trade JC Jackson? It’s very possible the New England Patriots would do that. If that happens, I imagine it might go something like this
Trading a franchised player is nothing new for the Patriots. They did just that with Tebucky Jones, sending him to New Orleans for 2003 third and seventh round picks and a 2004 fourth round selection.
So the first thing we should expect is if the Patriots send Jackson packing, it will be to an NFC team. They’d prefer Jackson is out of the AFC, limiting his potential impact on the success of his former team. And it won’t be to any cornerback-needy team. A proven, elite player would be coveted by a team that believes it can contend for a championship.
With that in mind, forget about getting into the top half of the first round. Rebuilding teams like the NY Giants and Atlanta Falcons would just draft a corner and pay a rookie salary instead of the $17-20 million/year Jackson could earn with a new contract.
NFC ring chasers could be the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Green Bay would be added to the conversation, but the Packers typically build through the draft and don’t spend big on other team’s free agents.
Either the 23rd or 27th overall selections might not be picks to get very excited about, but at least New England gets something for Jackson, right? But what if the Patriots take less?
While Belichick made some fantastic deals when acquiring players, when it comes to dealing players, the compensation sometimes feels like the Patriots could had gotten more.
New England did get a first round pick for QB Drew Bledsoe (Buffalo Bills, 2002) and for DE Richard Seymour (then-Oakland Raiders, 2011). But second rounders for DE Chandler Jones (plus OG Jonathan Cooper, Arizona, 2016) and QB Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco, 2018) certainly seemed below what they would had been worth.
Trading Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers for just a 2023 sixth round pick was a horrible deal. Financially the decision is understandable because it’s likely impossible to pay two elite corners market value and still build a solid team. But a future sixth for a cornerback of Gilmore’s caliber is basically giving him away.
Hopefully the New England Patriots don’t sell themselves short. A ballhawk with 17 picks over the last two seasons and a Pro Bowl selection should be worth at least a first to any interested party. So let’s pretend the Patriots get at least that much.
For those still critical of New England’s ability to draft talent, the times they had two first round picks during the Belichick era have worked out well: 2004 – NT Vince Wilfork and TE Ben Watson; 2012 – Jones and LB Dont’a Hightower; 2018 – OT Isaiah Wynn and RB Sony Michel.
If the New England Patriots hit as well as those did, then the team would do great. Conversely, Belichick doesn’t have a good record at drafting cornerbacks, which arguably becomes the Patriots biggest need if they don’t re-sign Jackson.
Not re-signing Jackson would a huge mistake on the Patriots part, especially after trading Gilmore. Trading Gilmore only makes sense if they re-sign Jackson. Jackson was the successor to Gilmore, and as of right now the Patriots don’t have a successor for Jackson, unless New England believes Shaun Wade is.
But JC Jackson is a known commodity. We don’t know if Wade can be that good. And drafting a cornerback fills the need on paper, but there’s no guarantee the rookie becomes as good as Jackson.
And if trading Jackson is bad, imagine the reaction if the New England Patriots takes the selection they get for Jackson and use it to trade down…