J.C. Jackson addresses next contract, future with Patriots amid strong 2021 season

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  • New England Patriots
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J.C. Jackson would 'love' to play with Patriots for 'a long time' originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

J.C. Jackson is enjoying another excellent season for the New England Patriots, but the closer he gets to NFL free agency the more questions will be asked about his future in Foxboro.

The star cornerback is in the final year of his contract and able to become an unrestricted free agent in March. He will be one of the top cornerbacks on the market if he gets there. 

Jackson was asked about his future during a video press conference with reporters Friday, and he expressed his willingness to play for the Patriots long term.

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“I love playing for the New England Patriots, playing under coach Belichick,” Jackson said. “I have grown as a football player since I’ve been here … It’s a place that gave me a chance from Day 1. I would love to be a New England Patriot for a long time.”

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Jackson's six interceptions through 11 games lead the Patriots and are the second-most of any player in the league. His 23 interceptions since the start of the 2018 season lead all players over that span.

The Patriots have decided not to pay some of their top cornerbacks in recent years. They let Malcolm Butler go to the Tennessee Titans as a free agent after the 2017 season, and that decision proved to be a good one. Instead of working out an extension with Stephon Gilmore, they traded him to the Carolina Panthers last month. 

Jackson is only 26 years old and very much in the prime of his career. If he leaves, the Patriots don't have another cornerback capable of stepping into that No. 1 role and playing near Jackson's level. For those reasons and others, the Patriots would be wise to pay Jackson and keep him in Foxboro for the foreseeable future.