J.C. Jackson will be sticking around New England for the 2021 season. Beyond that, though, things get a bit murky.
Per multiple reports, Jackson signed his restricted free-agent tender, keeping him in New England for this year unless another team trades for him and then signs him to a new contract. The Pats placed a second-round tender on Jackson ahead of free agency, meaning another team that signed him to a deal would have also had to surrender a second-round pick to the Patriots in exchange for his services.
All of this happened in the backdrop of the Patriots initially leaving Jackson off of the Pro Bowl ballot last season, despite the fact that he was leading their defense in snaps and leading the NFL in interceptions at the time. The Patriots explained the decision to Patriots Wire this way:
"We listed the two cornerbacks who have started the most games at cornerback and who have the longest tenure, Jason McCourty (9) and Stephon Gilmore (6). If we could list a third CB, we would have listed JC Jackson (4) or Jonathan Jones (6), but (you're) asked to list the 11 defensive starters."
It's worth noting that the Patriots could have simply submitted three cornerbacks among their 11 starters, as several other teams did. In any event, the NFL took steps to rectify Jackson's exclusion from the ballot, but he did not end up making the Pro Bowl.
Jackson, 25, was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He became a rotational player as a rookie and has gradually taken on more and more responsibility the past two years, playing 84 percent of New England's defensive snaps last season. He will now be set to hit the unrestricted free-agent market at age 26 next offseason, when he could be in line for a big payday.