J.C. Jackson is about to get paid. On Friday, a report noted that the New England Patriots are not expected to place the franchise tag on the star cornerback before the deadline, meaning he will hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year opens up in a few weeks. Given Jackson’s age and play to this point in his career, many predict that he could set the market at his position and it appears his camp is working towards accomplishing just that.
NFL Media’s Mike Giardi reported on Saturday that if teams are not willing to be in the contract range that is similar to Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey, they don’t want to talk. Currently, Ramsey is the NFL‘s highest-paid cornerback with an average annual salary of $20 million. Behind Ramsey is Saints corner Marshon Lattimore and Ravens defensive back Marlon Humphrey who are about in the $19.5 million range in AAV.
While that’s quite the price tag Jackson and his camp are putting on him, it is justified when you look at the numbers. Over the last three seasons, Jackson has totaled 22 interceptions and 47 pass breakups. Last season, he led the league with 23 passes defended to go along with eight picks. Opposing quarterbacks also registered just a 46.8 passer rating when targeting Jackson and completed 49.1% of their throws against him as well.
Given he already has that level of play on his résumé and the fact that he’s only 26 does point to a possible market-setting contract in free agency. Spotrac’s market value calculator does project Jackson to earn a contract that makes him the highest-paid corner in the league with an AAV of $20.9 million. Jackson’s free-agent market is also reportedly said to be robust.
The legal tampering window in the NFL opens on March 14 and runs until March 16 when the new league year — and free agency — officially begins.