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What Will Patriots Do With J.C. Jackson This Offseason?

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Patriots have a decision to make on J.C. Jackson. The star cornerback is a restricted free agent, giving New England the ability to use the franchise tag on Jackson this offseason.

But that would be a rather costly one-year pact for the Patriots. The franchise tag for cornerbacks is projected at $17.3 million, and one Patriots insider believes that will be too expensive for Bill Belichick and company this offseason. That is, unless the Patriots use it only to flip Jackson in a trade.

"Unless the Patriots believe they have a strong tag-and-trade possibility, I rate the odds of them tagging Jackson as low," ESPN's Mike Reiss wrote in his Sunday notes column.

The window for teams to use the franchise tag is now open, with a March 8 deadline to place it on a player. The two sides could still work out a long-term deal should the Patriots use the tag on Jackson, and would have until mid-July to do so.

While Reiss doesn't think the franchise tag is in the cards for the Patriots and Jackson, CBS Boston's Mike Hurley believes that will be the route New England takes this offseason. But if you're a big fan of Jackson, make sure you soak in all he has to offer in a Patriots uniform during the 2022 season, because Hurley believes it will be his last in New England.

"I'm kind of getting an Asante Samuel feel from it. I don't think Bill Belichick is in love with the player from an all-around perspective," Hurley said on Sunday night's Sports Final (video above). "The interception numbers speak for themselves, but it's not necessarily from perfect fundamentals. It's from guessing, anticipating -- which is a valuable asset.

"But I'm getting the feel you'll get a final year on the franchise tag for a lot of money, with the idea of getting the next guy in line for the following season," Hurley added. "I don't think they're going to commit to him for four years."

Jackson, whom the Patriots signed as an undrafted free agent 2018, has become an integral part of the New England defense. He has played in every game in each of the last three seasons, and has 25 interceptions over his 62 games overall. Seventeen of those interceptions came over the last two seasons, and he led the NFL with 23 passes defended last saeson.

But now that the time has come to pay Jackson, the Patriots are going to let someone else handle that. It's a play we've seen a handful of times out of Belichick's offseason handbook.

"They just did it with Malcolm Butler; got their five years from an undrafted guy and moved on from him, letting someone else pay big money for him," said Hurley. "They are smart in that department, and I have a feeling that is how they're going to go."

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