The LA Chargers still need secondary help heading into the 2021 season. The team did make the right decision to bring back Michael Davis but the cornerback room is still very thin. Davis and Chris Harris are the only actual contributors at cornerback on the roster.
Many assume that the LA Chargers are going to draft a cornerback early in the 2021 NFL Draft. While offensive line is most likely going to be the first-round pick for the team (or at least it should), a second-round pick for a corner seems likely.
Or the team can essentially use that second-round pick on an already established corner. A potential player that Charger fans have been eyeballing is New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson.
New England placed a second-round tenure on Jackson on Wednesday, meaning that any team that signs him would also have to sacrifice their second-round pick. Most times, this is a guarantee that said player will return to the team. However, with cornerback being such a big need for the Bolts, perhaps they can break the norms and sign Jackson for the second-round pick instead of drafting a prospect.
Should the LA Chargers sign J.C. Jackson?
There are multiple things to consider in a potential Jackson signing. It is deeper than just a second-round pick.
Jackson would be more of a guarantee for the LA Chargers than a rookie corner in year one. It is rare that a rookie can come in and make an instant impact, especially if that rookie is taken outside of the first round. It is possible for these rookies to make an instant impact, but most of the pick’s value comes with the player’s potential.
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Jackson has been in the league for three years and has already undergone that development phase. He is still only 25 years old, so he is actually just entering the prime years for a cornerback and he was already really good last season.
Jackson intercepted nine passes, allowing 41 receptions on 75 targets. Most importantly, quarterbacks had a 62.7 passer rating when targeting Jackson in 2020, per Pro Football Focus. That was the third-lowest passer rating while targeted among cornerbacks with 400 coverage snaps last season.
Jackson is also a fantastic scheme fit for the LA Chargers. The team needs another outside cornerback as Chris Harris is best used in the slot at this point in his career. Jackson primarily played outside last season but also showed the ability to hold his own playing in the slot and even in the box.
That is the kind of versatility that Brandon Staley can work with on the defense. If he made the cornerbacks on the Rams as good as they were last season just imagine what he could do with Jackson as he enters his prime.
Over The Cap evaluates Jackson to be worth $10.8 million and OTC is typically pretty spot on with these evaluations. OTC evaluated Matt Feiler to be worth $6.8 million, he got $7 million per season.
With the Patriots getting draft capital and already spending big this offseason the Chargers may not have to raise the price much higher than that evaluation. A three-year, $33-35 million contract should be more than enough.
So should the LA Chargers do it? Personally, and this is going to seem crazy after all of the positive things I just said, but I would not do this if I was the Chargers.
First of all, and it sounds trivial, most skill position players do not rebound after being let go by Bill Belichick. There are some exceptions, but most times he knows exactly when to let a player go.
To me, it makes more sense to spend less on a corner, be able to draft one in the second round and use the extra cap space saved on filling out the rest of the roster. The LA Chargers could sign someone such as Troy Hill to be the versatile corner and draft someone such as Asante Samuel Jr. in the second round.
Samuel might not be as good as Jackson in 2021 but this is not 2021 or bust. Samuel is a talented corner and the Chargers would be saving a significant amount of salary-cap space.
If Jackson was just a free-agent signing then it would make sense. But to spend a second-round pick just to sign a free agent? It does not make sense for the LA Chargers.