If there's one thing to be said about the New England Patriots' poor start to 2023, it's that this is not a franchise that will settle for mediocrity. Nobody is going to stand by complacently while this team struggles. Nobody is going to be idle while injuries ravaged the defense.
That was proven with a huge trade pulled off on Wednesday morning, reuniting the Patriots with a former All-Pro cornerback in the wake of Christian Gonzalez' injury.
Patriots Trade News: J.C. Jackson Acquired From Chargers
The New England Patriots have beefed up their secondary by trading for cornerback J.C. Jackson from the Los Angeles Chargers. The cost of adding Jackson was virtually zero, with the Pats and Chargers just swapping sixth- and seventh-round picks in the 2025 NFL Draft as part of the deal.
That doesn't mean this deal doesn't carry some risk, however.
Jackson has struggled this year with the Chargers, and his contract is huge for a guy who isn't playing at the elite level we once saw. His cap hit is $17 million this year, and climbs to over $19 million for each of the next three, without many inexpensive outs built in there for the team.
So the Patriots are gambling on a return to form here.
Jackson's peak year was his final one as a Patriot, being named a second-team All-Pro and making his first Pro Bowl in 2021. He led the NFL in pass breakups that season (23) while adding 8 interceptions.
He then signed that big free agent deal with the Chargers, only to have injuries and poor play totally derail his 2022 season. The hope was that he’d look right in 2023 having had time to (hopefully) recover from his ruptured patellar tendon, but he’s earned a pretty brutal 48.2 grade from Pro Football Focus (including just 47.1 in coverage).
Bill Belichick doesn't tend to mess around when it comes to cap space though. The fact that he thinks it's worth taking on Jackson's big contract now is a sign that he must see something in what Jackson has done this year that makes him confident he can get the best out of the 27-year-old corner again.
With Gonzalez hurt the Patriots needed to make a move, and this was a big one.
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