3. NFL free agents likely to receive the franchise tag – J.C. Jackson
Seeing a true No. 1 corner reach free agency is rare since most teams lock up their top corners before they ever get to test the market. Exceptions can emerge when a star emerges quickly, which is the case for New England’s J.C. Jackson.
Quarterbacks had a really difficult time throwing at Jackson in 2021 as he intercepted eight passes and led the league with 23 passes defensed. Jackson has demonstrated an incredible ability to make plays around the ball, making him a valuable commodity in Bill Belichick’s defense.
The wild card here is that the Patriots don’t always use the franchise tag in ways that the casual observer would expect as Belichick prefers to let players leave one year too early instead of one year too late. Jackson would seem like a logical franchise tag candidate at 26 years old but the Patriot Way dictates that no one player is more valuable than the collective team.
The Patriots would be much worse off without Jackson in 2022 so the tag should be applied here. If it isn’t, Jackson will become one of the most coveted cornerbacks on the free-agent market and can secure a massive payday.