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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Tuesday’s deadline to award the franchise brand camera and went with the New England Patriots and provided the opportunity to use it on cornerback JC Jackson, whose 25 interceptions are tied with Lester Hayes and Everson Walls for most of a player in his first four NFL seasons since 1970.
The mark would have been $ 17.3 million for 2022, and although the option was obviously considered to some degree, it never seemed like a realistic option.
This paves the way for Jackson to experience unlimited free agency from Monday. That’s when his agent, Neil Schwartz, can start negotiating with other clubs, and Jackson is expected to cash in.
He has been given the chance. When he entered the NFL as an expired free agent in 2018, he has earned a total of $ 5.1 million. Now a new deal averaging $ 15-20 million per season may be within his reach. And as Patriots fans have learned, Jackson does not let too many of these opportunities slip away.
Therefore, the Patriots should be prepared to lose their promising ball hawk, which raises several questions:
Why not use the franchise brand? One can say that the simple answer is that coach Bill Belichick does not see Jackson as a player at $ 17.3 million a year. And if another team does, or even exceeds that number, it’s the free thing.
The Patriots have $ 13.7 million in cap space, according to Roster Management. So if they had awarded the Jackson franchise, they would have been prepared to make room before March 16, the official start of the 2022 league year.
Can be done, but not ideally – especially if they do not see him as worth such a rich salary, which seems to be closer to the core of the problem.
How did it get to this point? The Patriots tried to bring in Jackson for an extension during the 2021 season, but as Belichick sometimes says, it takes two sides to make a deal.
Jackson described the situation in a February interview with NBC Sports Boston, saying, “It was all positive things. I wanted to focus on ball at that point. I wanted to end the season the right way. I didn’t really get back to them on it. “
Jackson relied primarily on himself to make it healthy by the end of the season and test the open market. Had he suffered a serious injury during the season, there might have been some regret with the decision.
This is often the risk-reward scenario for players, and Jackson – as he is known for doing on the pitch – has positioned himself well to maximize his earnings.
And of course, the Patriots could have sweetened their offerings over the course of the season to possibly entice Jackson to change his mind.
Is the door closed when Jackson returns? Not necessarily, but it seems to be trending that way. The economic parameters are in place.
The Patriots’ reluctance to brand Jackson helps clarify the economic level they are willing to expand to keep him. So then the question becomes: Is there an open market deal worth $ 17.3 million per season or more?
Some in the NFL scouting / agent community see it as a probability, and therefore the odds are greater than Jackson playing elsewhere in 2022. But if the market does not become a reality for Jackson, it would not be the first time a top free agent explored other options. and eventually re-signed with the team.
What other corners are available in free agency? Finding a No. 1 corner will be costly, and there may be talk that if the Patriots consider it, they might as well expand to bring Jackson back.
But other cornerbacks coming on the market include old friend Stephon Gilmore (hard to imagine his return), Carlton Davis (Buccaneers), Donte Jackson (Panthers), DJ Reed (Seahawks), Charvarius Ward (Chiefs) and Darious Williams ( Rams), among others.
What options in the draft can help? This is where ESPN NFL draft analyst Jordan Reid puts in. Knowing what the Patriots value in corners, he was asked to identify some prospects that might fit their profile, with a nugget analysis of why.
Andrew Booth Jr. (Clemson) – Booth Jr. is an exceptional athlete who has an extremely highly competitive drive. A true man-corner, he is a loose movement who is also not pale to show up in running support. Before the combine, he strained his quad. As a result, he was only able to do interviews. All eyes will be on him during Clemson’s pro day on March 17. Draft reach: Options No. 15-25
Kaiir Elam (Florida) – The nephew of former Raven’s first-round safety Matt Elam, Kaiir, is a big and physical corner (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) who enjoys getting his fingers in wide receivers. With enough speed in short space, he has been a bit of the forgotten man in a deep cornerback class, but it ended quickly after running a 4.39-time in the 40-yard race in the NFL scouting combine. Draft Range: Option 21-32
Derion Kendrick (Georgia) – After having a fantastic start to his career with Clemson, he was fired from the team after some disciplinary issues that resulted in him landing in Georgia. Since arriving in Athens, he has been on the rise, with his wisdom, patience and physicality tackling his three best qualities. If he is able to overlook his past, he has the talent to eventually become an addicted No. 2 corner. Draft range: third round
Josh Jobe (Alabama) – The lone veteran of Tide’s cornerback space last season, Jobe is a thickly built player who is a bully on the field. He experiments both in safety and on corners and is a confident tackler who was also a big presence on special teams. When he came after a foot surgery (December 2021) that kept him out of the College Football Playoff, and as an older customer (24 years old), he is likely a choice in the late round that could continue to be an early contributor on special teams and depth piece at corner. Draft Range: fifth-sixth round
If the Patriots are not making a corner, then what do they have on the list?: Veteran Jalen Mills, the starter opposite Jackson, returns in 2022. While he may be better able to project into a hybrid corner / safety role-playing game in midfield – which is where the Eagles had moved him in 2020 – he was competitive for the Patriots on the outside in ’21.
Veteran Jonathan Jones, whose 2021 season was cut off after six games due to shoulder surgery, is back as the best slot option, with sophomore Myles Bryant his undergraduate. And the Patriots still have hopes of trading acquisition Shaun Wade, the 2021 rookie from Ohio State that they acquired from the Ravens for the fifth and seventh round picks last September.
The 6-foot-1, 191-pound Wade figures to get a long look in the spring after being limited to a small role in three games last season, in part due to COVID-19, injury and learning a new playbook. The ideal scenario for the Patriots would be to see an increase in Wade’s confidence and availability. He sees the role, but can he play the role?
It’s a similar question that had previously been asked to Joejuan Williams, who was selected in the second round in 2019, who remains on the list, but who has not consistently shown that he projects as part of the solution with the playoff loss to Buffalo Bills – when he was badly beaten for a touchdown – a difficult last impression to leave on his way into the offseason.