Patriots

Chargers among the teams reportedly expected to heavily pursue J.C. Jackson

Free agency opens on Wednesday, but teams can legally tamper with free agents starting on Monday.

J.C. Jackson is expected to expected to be one of the most pursued free agents this offseason.

Less than 24 hours before the legal tampering period begins in NFL free agency, teams are preparing to make their best first impressions on top free agents.

When the tampering period opens, Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson is reportedly expected to garner interest from several teams. One of those teams is the Chargers, who plan to be “heavily involved” in the pursuit of Jackson, NFL Network’s Mike Giardi reported Sunday.

It’s unclear what the Chargers are expected to offer Jackson, but he’s seeking a lot of money. Jackson is looking for “Jalen Ramsey money,” Giardi reported earlier in March. Ramsey is currently the league’s highest-paid corner on a five-year, $105 million deal.

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A couple of prognosticators expect Jackson to end up becoming one of the league’s highest-paid corners when he signs his new deal. Pro Football Focus predicts Jackson will sign a four-year, $72 million deal with $56 million guaranteed.

Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard doesn’t expect the Patriots to offer as much. Bedard thinks the Patriots will offer Jackson a contract somewhere around $15 million per year with $35 million guaranteed.

Bedard speculated how Bill Belichick and the Patriots could handle Jackson’s free agency after they decided not to franchise tag him.

“Can Belichick get J.C. Jackson to give Belichick first right of refusal, which is basically ‘Alright, go see what you’re worth and then come back to us,” Bedard said on the “Patriots Press Pass” podcast. “He could match it. That’s what happened with Devin McCourty and Vince Wilfork. Donta’ Hightower went out on the free-agent market. Go out and get an offer and we’ll see whether or not we want to match it. If they’re desperate enough, they will match it if J.C. Jackson’s interested in that.”

In his Sunday notes column, ESPN’s Mike Reiss listed Jackson as one of the Patriots free agents most likely to leave.

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As for the Chargers, adding Jackson would continue what’s already been an aggressive offseason for them. They re-signed wide receiver Mike Williams to a three-year, $60 million deal and they traded for star edge rusher Khalil Mack from the Bears, giving up a second-round pick in the deal.

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