Los Angeles Chargers Sign CB J.C. Jackson
NFL Offseason - The top cornerback is off the board.
Former New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson has reportedly agreed to a five-year contract with the Los Angeles Chargers, per Ian Rapoport. While the exact numbers are still trickling in, it is reportedly worth $28 million in year one, $40 million in the first two years, and up to $85 million over the course of the contract. Those numbers place him in the top five cornerback contracts, and while it's not quite the Jalen Ramsey money Jackson was reportedly searching for, it's a massive deal for a player already at the top of the league at only age 26.
Jackson got the opportunity to replace Stephon Gilmore as the Patriots' top corner in 2021, and he more than rose to the challenge. His eight interceptions were second in the league behind only Trevon Diggs, and Jackson's underlying numbers are much, much stronger. Jackson led the league in pass breakups with 20. He was third in Sports Info Solutions' total points saved metric among cornerbacks; fifth in completion percentage allowed at 49.1%, and significantly above average at 6.2 yards per target. He only had one game last season where he allowed more than 60 yards in coverage; just two where he allowed more than 50, and an average of just 31.1 yards per game. The Patriots generally match up their top corner against their opponents' top receiver, so Jackson is responsible for a lot of New England's top-ranked pass defense against number one wideouts. And he's only 26 years old, so while the Chargers are paying for his best season, there's every reason to believe he'll continue playing at a top level for the duration of this deal.
The Chargers ranked 30th against opposing team's top receivers in 2021, allowing a 22.8% DVOA. And they now have to face Russell Wilson twice a year, just in case two matchups against Patrick Mahomes and Derek Carr a year weren't a tough enough ask. Perhaps cornerback wasn't the Chargers' single biggest need, but they had to keep up with the AFC West's arm race somehow. They needed an improvement over Michael Davis across from Asante Samuel. Jackson isn't just an improvement – he was the best player out there. (It's also possible Samuel moves inside with Davis staying outside opposite Jackson in nickel sets.)
It's a hefty chunk of change to give up to get him, but the Chargers are still in Justin Herbert's rookie window, so now is the time to break the bank for top-quality pieces. Adding the top playmaking cornerback in the league to their defense keeps the Chargers in the fight in the AFC West.
J.C. Jackson Overall Impact: Standing pat is going backwards in the AFC West at the moment. The Chargers are not standing pat – adding both Jackson and Khalil Mack to their defense in a week should be huge for their 19th-ranked pass defense from a year ago. I know there's always the worry about Belichick's players not performing to their typical level after leaving New England, but all of Jackson's underlying metrics are rock solid. He's not going to shut Tyreek Hill down or anything, but the Chargers look significantly better equipped to fight off the AFC's legion of quarterbacks than they did at this point last week.
J.C. Jackson Fantasy Impact: It's a lot harder to rack up interceptions when your schedule goes from Zach Wilson and Tua Tagovailoa to Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson. Plus, eight interceptions is a huge number, and was very likely to regress some even before Jackson was on the move. Counting on him to repeat as CB5 in IDP leagues seems optimistic, to say the least.