The LA Chargers made arguably the most shocking move of the 2023 NFL season when the team traded J.C. Jackson back to the New England Patriots less than two years after signing him to a five-year deal.
Jackson was viewed as this game-breaking CB1 that was going to help reinvent the Chargers' defense under Brandon Staley. Instead, Jackson never quite took off, had apparent issues with the coaching staff and team, and was eventually traded for pennies on the dollar.
It isn't groundbreaking to say that the J.C. Jackson signing was a bad one for the Chargers, that is beyond obvious. The signing was so bad, in fact, that it prompted Chargers general manager Tom Telesco to get up in front of the team and apologize for signing Jackson in the first place.
No, we aren't kidding. ESPN's Kris Rhim detailed Telesco's apology in his latest feature on Jackson and his time with the Chargers.
"It was Week 6, the group's first meeting since the Chargers traded cornerback J.C. Jackson to the New England Patriots for a swap of late-round picks, just over a year after signing him to a five-year $82.5 million contract in March of 2022. Telesco stood in front of the group and began to apologize.
Telesco told the group that signing Jackson was a mistake, according to multiple team sources. He 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.
Telesco called the move a "swing and a miss.""
Tom Telesco literally apologized to the Chargers for how bad the J.C. Jackson signing was
If any fans needed any more reasons why the Chargers absolutely had to trade J.C. Jackson all the reasoning is in that anecdote. If the general manager of the team has to get in front of everyone and apologize not just for bringing Jackson in, but for giving him multiple chances, then it shows just how toxic this relationship was.
Many assumed that both parties were at fault for this toxic relationship. Jackson wasn't holding up his end of the bargain but it was perceived that Brandon Staley and the coaching staff were not putting him in a position to succeed. If anything, this admission of guilt takes the blame off the coaching staff and puts it on Jackson and the front office.
What makes this even more shocking is the fact that Telesco (and Staley) are in do-or-die years in 2023. If the Chargers fail to make the playoffs there is a real chance that both Staley and Telesco will get the boot from ownership. To have this kind of whiff, and to admit to the whiff, is definitely not going to help Telesco's case.
The J.C. Jackson era is in the past and since his departure the Chargers defense has played better. Since the trade, the Chargers have allowed 20.25 points per game. The only really bad stretch for the team was the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs, where Staley and Co. forgot to just man Travis Kelce up with Derwin James.
One of two things will happen. Trading J.C. Jackson will prove to be the true turning point of the season that may lead the Chargers into the playoffs. Or, if things go bad, it will be the final dagger in Telesco's decade-long tenure with the team.