The New England Patriots are bringing back an old friend to help bolster an injury-riddled secondary.
The Patriots are trading for Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Wednesday per sources informed of the deal. New England and L.A. will swap 2025 sixth and seventh-round selections.
An undrafted free agent in 2018, Jackson rose up the depth chart in New England to become a Pro Bowler in 2021, leading the NFL in passes defended (23). He generated 17 interceptions in his final two seasons with the Patriots.
In 2022, Jackson cashed in, inking a five-year $82.5 million contract with Los Angeles, which believed he could be the missing piece in the secondary. It was not to be for Mr. INT.
Jackson proved an ill-fit in Brandon Staley's scheme, dealing with an early-season injury and getting torched in his first action. Jackson was benched in Week 6 of last season, then suffered a patellar tendon tear in Week 7, ending his season after just five games.
While he returned to the lineup, things got no better for Jackson in 2023. In Week 1, he gave up 99 yards and a touchdown on three catches with a brutal defensive pass interference penalty and an interception against Miami. Jackson was a healthy scratch in Week 3 and, while he was active in Week 4, the corner didn't play a snap in the win over Las Vegas.
Jackson told NFL Network's Bridget Condon last week that he was "confused" by the Chargers' decision to bench him in Week 3.
A week later, L.A. jettisoned the corner. NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported that the Chargers are paying the majority of Jackson's $12 million guaranteed salary to facilitate the trade. In a corresponding move, the Bolts claimed ex-Broncos cornerback Essang Bassey off waivers.
Injuries in the secondary have riddled the Patriots. Gonzalez's potentially season-ending injury is the latest and biggest blow to the group. The first-rounder was off to a stellar start to his career, winning Defensive Rookie of the Month for September to cement his status as an early season Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
The hope in New England is that Jackson's knowledge of the defense should help get him back on track after his disastrous move to the West Coast.