Things are not going well for New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson this week. On Sunday, Jackson was on the bench for the start of New England’s game against Washington. On Monday, ESPN published an article saying that the Chargers general manager apologized to players about Jackson’s time in Los Angeles. And today, NFL analyst Albert Breer reports that Jackson was late to the team hotel on Saturday, which caused his benching. It is also being reported by Ian Rappaport of NFL Network that Jackson will not be traveling with the Patriots to Germany for this weekend’s game.
Rags to Riches Story in New England
J.C. Jackson signed with New England as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland following the 2018 NFL Draft. Despite being a UDFA, Jackson made the team and became a Super Bowl champion as an NFL rookie. His role continued to grow over the next three seasons. In 2020 he was very good. In 2021, J.C. Jackson was great..
Jackson was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2021 and was named second team All-Pro. He led the NFL with 23 passes defended. After his nine-interception campaign in 2020, Jackson picked off another eight. This included an 88-yard pick-six. In his four seasons with New England, Jackson improved each year. The star cornerback peaked at the right time, set to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2021 season.
J.C. JACKSON WILL TAKE THAT 88 YARDS TO THE HOUSE! #ForeverNE
— NFL (@NFL) November 7, 2021
Moving to Los Angeles
Chargers GM Tom Telesco made some big moves in March of 2022. First, he made a trade with Chicago to bring former NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack to Los Angeles. Next, he made a big splash in free agency. The Chargers signed the top defensive free agent, J.C. Jackson, to a massive deal. The former Patriot headed to L.A. with a five-year, $82.5 million contact.
The Khalil Mack trade worked out very well for the Chargers. Mack made the Pro Bowl in 2022 with 8.0 sacks and 12 tackles for loss. This season, the outside linebacker has been even better, with 9.0 sacks after eight games. Unfortunately for Telesco, his signing of J.C. Jackson was less successful.
Expectations had been high. Jackson was counted on to help safety Derwin James anchor the Los Angeles secondary. But his first season in L.A. was over after just five games when Jackson suffered a ruptured patella tendon. He’d miss the rest of the 2022 season. The high-priced free agent known for interceptions finished his first season in Los Angeles with zero.
Although Jackson’s season was not going great pre-injury, it is tough to evaluate a five-year contract after only five games. 2023 would give Jackson an opportunity to prove himself worthy of his big paycheck.
In 2023 Jackson played in the first two games and had one interception. But he did not play in the next two games for the Chargers, before being dealt back to the Patriots. Jackson stated he was confused why he would be inactive. He acknowledged not being 100% healthy, but felt healthy enough to play.
Tom Telesco’s Apology
Kris Rhim covers the Chargers for ESPN. He reported that Tom Telesco’s comments to players were made during a team meeting after Jackson had been traded back to the New England Patriots last month. According to Monday’s report, Telesco ended up apologizing to Chargers players for the signing, deeming it “a mistake.”
The comments from the Chargers GM seem to paint a clearer picture of why Jackson was not playing and was ultimately traded. According to the article, Telesco, “apologized for continuing to give Jackson opportunities, despite Jackson routinely showing that he wasn’t as committed as the rest of the team while being one of the Chargers’ highest paid players.” This included J.C. Jackson apparently refusing to enter his final game with the Chargers in the fourth quarter.
Jackson did not dress in Week 3 and did not play the first three quarters the following week, When Jackson was told to enter the game, he reportedly refused. He claimed he was not warmed up enough and would not go in. J.C. Jackson would not play another snap for the Chargers. Other statements in the article about his fallout with the Chargers include accusations of not responding well to coaching and not practicing with a sense of urgency
Reason for Benching vs. Washington
Albert Breer of the Monday Monday QB reported today that according to sources, Jackson did not start the game against the Commanders due to being late to the team’s hotel on Saturday. Breer posted on X that the tardiness was “a part of why he started Sunday’s game vs. the Commanders on the bench.” There is no indication what other contributing factors were involved, though Jackson did have a subpar performance the week prior.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network posted that the Patriots plan is to leave J.C. Jackson home when they travel to Germany tomorrow to take on the Colts. He cited, in part, questions about Jackson’s reliability.
What’s Next for J.C. Jackson?
Rapoport’s post did leave a glimmer of optimism. He writes, “the decision was made to have him (Jackson) stay home, get through the bye and return in a better place.” So it looks as though J.C. Jackson could still fit into the New England Patriots plans in 2023. But in order to do so, Jackson will need to make a positive impression in the two weeks between Sunday’s game against Indianapolis and their game following a bye vs. the New York Giants.
J.C. Jackson’s 2023 contract is not guaranteed. It is unlikely the New England Patriots will have interest in his current cap number, especially given the latest round of controversies and poor play. So Jackson is playing for his next contract the rest of the way here. Whether that is a revamped deal with the Patriots or heading back to free agency remains to be seen. But this past week has not done the cornerback any favors in negotiations.