It’s getting easier to envision the Patriots moving on from J.C. Jackson this offseason, but much can change over the next few weeks.
New England has until March 8 to place the franchise tag on Jackson, who is scheduled to become a free agent the following week. The turnover machine made headlines Tuesday when he told NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry that it’s “time” for the star cornerback to get paid. Jackson also called out the Patriots, who apparently haven’t approached the 2021 Pro Bowler about a new deal.
“I guess they feel like they don’t need me,” the 26-year-old told Perry. “I guess I can’t be that important to them. I know I am, but they’re not showing me.”
The comments certainly are interesting, but what do they really mean? It’s possible that Jackson was making a strategic attempt to create leverage against the Patriots, but he also is someone who isn’t shy about being candid during interviews. He truly might’ve been speaking his mind.
Either way, fans worried about Jackson’s potential departure should keep a recent tweet from The Athletic’s Jeff Howe in mind:
“Necessary context: Very, very common for the Patriots to wait until the combine to begin laying the groundwork for negotiations with in-house free agents,” Howe wrote Tuesday. “Not defending or criticizing the process here. Just relaying their typical timeline as it relates to Jackson.”
So, while Jackson likely has a better sense than most about the Patriots’ intentions this offseason, the lack of communication between the two sides isn’t necessarily indicative of whether New England plans to retain the young corner.
Jackson, who signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2018, leads the NFL with 25 interceptions since he entered the league. He finished this season as the seventh-ranked corner by Pro Football Focus.