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Report: J.C. Jackson Not Ruling Out Return To Patriots, But Cost Will Likely Be Too High

BOSTON (CBS) -- If J.C. Jackson's free-agent market is as robust as he expects it to be, then the cornerback's days in Foxboro are certainly over.

However, the door is not yet officially closed on Jackson signing a new deal with the Patriots.

That's according to NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry, who spoke to Jackson after the cornerback did not receive a franchise tag ahead of Tuesday's deadline. Despite the lack of agreement on a deal last year, Jackson doesn't seem to be holding any ill will toward New England and thus would sign on the dotted line if the team made a competitive offer.

"I wouldn't rule it out," Perry said of a Jackson return to New England. "I got a chance to talk to him [on Tuesday afternoon], and I wouldn't rule out a return to the Patriots."

Despite the door being open, Perry suggested that chatter at the combine last week indicated that Jackson will be getting top-five cornerback money on the open market. If or when that happens, then the Jackson era in New England will officially be over.

"[The Patriots] like him, they just like him at their number," Perry said. "I'm not sure the Patriots are going to be willing to match [a top-five cornerback] of figure. I think that figure is going to be out there for him."

Jackson and all other NFL free agents can start to legally hear from teams beginning on Monday, during the legal tampering window. Free agency officially begins on Wednesday, March 16, at 4 p.m. ET.

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