J.C. Jackson has likely played his last down as a Patriot.
Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reported Jackson's asking price is likely too high for the Patriots to match when he hits the open market. New England is not expected to use its franchise tag on the Pro Bowler before Tuesday's deadline.
Mike Giardi of NFL Network reported Saturday that Jackson is looking to make "Jalen Ramsey money" on his next contract. Ramsey's five-year, $100 million contract with the Los Angeles Rams makes him the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history.
Marlon Humphrey and Marshon Lattimore are the only other cornerbacks in the NFL making at least $19 million on an annual basis.
A franchise tag would cost the Patriots around $17.3 million. By choosing not to use the tag by the deadline, New England is, in essence, saying it does not value Jackson on the level of a Ramsey, Humphrey or Lattimore.
Jackson earned his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro berths in 2021, recording 58 tackles and eight interceptions. He's recorded an NFL-high 17 picks over the past two seasons.
Pro Football Focus gave Jackson an overall grade of 82.7 for the 2021 season, the best mark of his career.
Even if the Patriots don't value him as a $20-million-a-year player, it's possible he winds up getting to that number once he hits the open market. Shutdown corners rarely hit free agency at age 26 and coming off an All-Pro season. Teams desperate for an improvement in their pass defense and flush with cash could wind up in a bidding war for Jackson's services.
All it takes is one team to get desperate enough to break the bank, and Jackson's performance level over the past two seasons is enough to think he'll leave March as one of the two or three highest-paid cornerbacks in football.