No player in the NFL has intercepted as many passes as J.C. Jackson since he arrived in the league in 2018. The New England Patriots’ number one cornerback has been able to pick off a total of 23 throws, earning the nickname Mr. INT along the way.
The 26-year-old is not just the premier ballhawk in football, though, he also is one of the game’s biggest bargains. A former undrafted free agent, who originally arrived in New England on a three-year pact with a mere $60,000 in guarantees, Jackson has a salary cap hit of $3.38 million this season while playing under the second-round restricted free agency tender.
For comparison, 39 other cornerbacks have a higher cap impact this year. Tis bargain status is set to change very soon, though: Jackson is scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency next March.
The expectation is that he will become one of the highest paid cornerbacks in the league when entering the open market. The question is whether the team paying him will be the Patriots.
It remains to be seen if the two sides can work out a long-term deal to keep Jackson put. The man himself, however, appears to be quite happy to be in New England.
“I love playing for the New England Patriots, playing under Coach Belichick,” Jackson said during a media conference call on Friday. “I have grown as a football player since I’ve been here. I’ve learned the game, I would say. There are a lot of older guys on this team, so I have picked up a lot of knowledge from these guys that have been in this organization for a long time.”
When Jackson joined the Patriots, he was inserted into a secondary led by veterans Devin and Jason McCourty, Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon. Four years later, only Devin McCourty and slot cornerback Jonathan Jones remain with the team; Jackson is now a veteran himself.
Keeping him therefore appears to be in New England’s best interest, but money will eventually do the talking. At this point in time, however, talk is still cheap — and Jackson’s is hitting just the right notes for now.
“I love it here. It’s the place that brought me in and gave me a chance from Day 1,” Jackson said on Friday. “So, I would love to be a New England Patriot for a long time.”
Time will tell whether or not that will indeed happen.