J.C. Jackson already is an important piece of the New England Patriots defense.
Jackson immediately would become New England’s top corner, a coronation that might simply be a formality seeing as the 25-year-old performed last season like a legitimate No. 1.
“Of course I am,” Jackson told NFL Media’s Mike Giardi on Monday of whether he’s a legit No. 1 cornerback. “I would never settle for less. I would never say I’m No. 2, No. 3. I’m No. 1.”
One shouldn’t mistake Jackson’s confidence for cockiness, as he’s worked hard to reach this point since signing with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent before the 2018 season. And one also shouldn’t expect Jackson to kick up a fuss or rest on his laurels in wake of an excellent 2020 campaign in which he totaled nine interceptions.
Jackson signed a second-round restricted free agent tender this offseason that’ll pay him $3.38 million in 2021, and further improvement only will enhance his case for a lucrative payday down the road. He just needs to keep moving forward, regardless of what New England’s defensive depth chart looks like this season.
“I didn’t get no extension. So what? Who cares? I know it’s coming,” Jackson told Giardi. “I just love the game, man. The money is going to come. I just love playing football.”
The Patriots’ offense should be better in 2021, thanks to some new weapons and Cam Newton being more comfortable in New England’s system. The team’s success ultimately could hinge on the defense, though, and Jackson, like Gilmore, is an integral piece when evaluating the unit’s potential.