The Los Angeles Chargers are giving former New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson a five-year, $82.5 million deal that includes $40 million guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.
Jackson, who just concluded his fourth NFL season with the Patriots, earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2021. His eight interceptions were the second most in the NFL, behind Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs’ 11.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick noted Jackson’s knack for coming up with the football during the season when he said: “You leave any trash laying around, he’s going to pick it up.”
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Jackson, who sometimes refers to himself by the nickname “Mr. INT,” has totaled 25 interceptions since entering the league with the Patriots in 2018 as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland. His 25 picks have him tied with Lester Hayes and Everson Walls for the most by a player in his first four seasons (since 1970).
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Jackson was also named an Associated Press second-team All-Pro in 2021. He told NBC Sports Boston that the Patriots approached him about a contract extension during the season, but he decided to hold off on talks until the year was over.
Jackson, 26, has been durable over his NFL career. He started all 17 regular-season games last season and the team’s playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills.
In all, he has played in 67 games, with 42 starts (including playoffs).
The move continues the Chargers’ aggressive makeover of their defense. Also Monday, they agreed to a two-year deal worth $14 million with former New York Giants defensive tackle Austin Johnson, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Last week, they agreed to a trade to acquire edge rusher Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears, sources told Schefter.
Jackson will join safety Derwin James Jr. in the secondary and upgrade a cornerback position that struggled last season. Michael Davis was inconsistent in coverage, and Asante Samuel Jr., a rookie, dealt with injuries late in the year.
Jackson also joins the AFC West, which figures to have the league’s deepest collection of quarterbacks. The Chargers have Justin Herbert, but they will have to go against Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Denver’s Russell Wilson and Las Vegas’ Derek Carr.
“You’re in five defensive backs 65% or more, so corner is definitely going to be something that we’re looking at,” coach Brandon Staley said during the recent NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. “We’re always going to be looking at it as long as I’m the head coach. You’re aware of these receivers that we have to defend.”
Los Angeles, 9-8 last season, got off to a 4-1 start but missed the playoffs for the third straight season, winning back-to-back games only once after Week 5 and losing three of the final four games.
The Chargers were 23rd in total defense and even worse in key areas. They allowed 269 points in the second half and overtime, tied with the 2015 New Orleans Saints for most since 1991. Offenses converted 49.5% of their third-down opportunities, the third-highest rate since 1991.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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