Football

J.C. Jackson says he would love to stay with the Patriots ‘for a long time’

"It's a place that gave me a chance from day one."

J.C. Jackson said he's grown as a player since he's been in New England. Winslow Townson/AP Photo

Patriots ballhawk J.C. Jackson, who has blossomed into one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, made it clear he appreciates what the franchise has done for his career.

“It’s a place that gave me a chance from day one,” Jackson said Friday. “I would love to be a New England Patriot for a long time.”

Jackson, 26, is currently on a one-year, $3,384,000 deal with the Patriots, which is a steal for New England. When he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he’ll be in line for a major payday.

Time will tell where he ends up, but he indicated that he has no desire to leave if everything aligns. He said he’s become more of a student of the game while learning from head coach Bill Belichick and has benefited from the tutelage of the veteran players.

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“I love playing for the New England Patriots, playing under Coach Belichick,” Jackson said. “I have grown as a football player since I’ve been here.”

Jackson is currently the highest-graded cornerback in man coverage (84.4), per Pro Football Focus, and he leads all AFC cornerbacks in Pro Bowl votes. He has the second-most interceptions in the league (six) this year and the most since the start of 2018 (23).

Miguel Benzan (@PatsCap) said it’s possible for the Patriots to structure a four-year, $72 million deal where both sides are happy.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated noted that the Patriots need Jackson a lot more than he needs them in part because of their current lack of depth at the position.

He said the divide between the Patriots and Jackson this past offseason was so significant that talks “died right there on the vine.” Breer believes Jackson will be “eyeing every dime” he can get this offseason.

He added that it will likely cost the Patriots $17 or $18 million to franchise tag Jackson in 2022 if they’re unable to come to terms on a long-term deal. The Patriots project to have between $30 and $35 million in space, so it is possible.

Breer said he’s not sure whether they’ll do so, noting that the Patriots have used the tag 10 times under Belichick – including three to retain a kicker.

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“The question is complicated by the market at the position,” Breer wrote. “If the fourth-year star gets to free agency healthy, he’ll be paid like No. 1 corner. Whether you think he’s one or not, that’s just how it goes when good players at that spot make it to the market.”

Breer concluded that yes, the tag seems like the “most sensible stopgap” for the Patriots.

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