Since going undrafted in 2018, New England Patriots CB J.C. Jackson has become one of the best at the position. But with him set to hit free agency this offseason, what are his potential landing spots? Would the Patriots consider keeping Jackson around, and if not, which teams might be in the market for the ballhawk?
J.C. Jackson landing spots
It will be intriguing to see whether Jackson even gets close to free agency this offseason. The Patriots have a handful of free agents to address this offseason and around $27 million in salary cap space as it stands. Several options rest on defense, but not many are to Jackson’s level since arriving in New England.
Since the departure of the former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore earlier this year, Jackson has been the leader of this secondary, at least in terms of talent. Going back to his arrival in the league in 2018, Jackson leads the league in interceptions in that time with 24 (two ahead of Xavien Howard).
Jackson is understandably going to expect to be paid as one of the top CBs in the NFL this offseason. It will be fascinating to see whether the Patriots are willing to go that high. Will the Pats go in the $17.5-20 million region for Jackson, or will they let him hit the market?
If New England does let Jackson enter free agency, let’s take a look at which teams might be interested.
Could the Jets make a play for Jackson?
The Jets have been relying on young players in their secondary this past season. They desperately need to add a more experienced player who can make plays for them, but also one who can lead the secondary.
Jackson has been superb throughout his career, both in terms of turnovers and completions allowed. He would fit in nicely as the lead corner for the Jets with the young players around him. The Jets will also have close to $50 million in cap space, so they should be able to pay up to acquire Jackson.
Would the 49ers be a potential destination for the star CB?
The 49ers have been solid against the pass this season. However, they have a number of their corners set to become free agents this year. If they decide to go down the route of replacing them with a star veteran, this would be an ideal landing spot for Jackson.
The problem for the 49ers would be in terms of salary cap space. They are projected to have just $12.8 million in cap space and have only 32 players under contract for next season. Therefore, making the logistics work to bring in a star CB could be tough for San Francisco.
The Chiefs could look to bolster their secondary with Jackson
Kansas City has had success with 2020 NFL Draft pick L’Jarius Sneed, but they need an option to play opposite him if Charvarius Ward departs this offseason. The Chiefs’ defense lacks stars, and Jackson would immediately become one of the best players on that side of the ball.
The issue for the Chiefs is whether they decide to keep Orlando Brown Jr. and Tyrann Mathieu. If they do, cap space might be a little on the short side to add a star corner like Jackson.
Could the Seahawks look at adding a star corner?
The Seahawks badly need to address the CB position this offseason. Both D.J. Reed and Marquise Blair are set to be free agents, and there is no clear option to step up and replace them. A secondary combining both Jamal Adams and Jackson would make for an interesting pairing with plenty of opportunities to take the ball away.
The Seahawks have a few areas to address this offseason, but they have plenty of cap space. Seattle currently has 36 players under contract for 2022 and $56 million in cap space. To immediately boost their defense, the Seahawks could certainly make a move for Jackson work.
Jackson could help change the fortunes of the Raiders’ secondary
Another team that could use a high-profile addition at cornerback is the Raiders. They are set to have three corners become free agents this year. Nate Hobbs has impressed this year, and Trayvon Mullen was good before getting injured.
A combination of those two and Jackson would make for a fascinating secondary. Jackson would take the role as the clear CB1, but both Mullen and Hobbs would be intriguing as second options. The Raiders would instantly have one of the top CB trios in the league if they added Jackson. They have the cap space to make it work, as they’re on pace for around $50 million available.