According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Patriots are making a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers to bring back cornerback J.C. Jackson after seeing their starters and backups at the position decimated with injuries through the first four games of the 2023 season. Christian Gonzalez was the latest to catch the injury bug, reportedly suffering a torn labrum in Sunday's loss to the Dallas Cowboys. That injury was apparently the final straw, forcing the Pats to move to bring back a trusted player the team developed. The deal is reportedly for a swap of late-round picks.
Jackson had a disappointing two-year stint with the Chargers after signing a five-year, $82 million deal in the 2022 offseason. Jackson played just five games in 2022 due to a ruptured patellar tendon and then was a healthy scratch last week against the Vikings as his play has fallen out of favor with the LA coaching staff. The move makes sense for both sides, certainly for the Patriots who were forced to play Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade as their top corners last week and were left with minimal depth at the important position.
Jackson's return could coincide with a possible return to the game field by Jonathan Jones, who has not played since the season opener against the Eagles. Jones has continued to practice but has continued to be limited in practice. A combination of Jones and Jackson would give the Patriots a familiar duo to hold down the outside coverage roles and provide a much-needed boost as the team enters a stretch of games rife with elite receivers like Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, Stephon Diggs and Tyreek Hill.
With Jack and Marcus Jones both on IR and Gonzalez expected to join them, this was a move the team had to make with the potent upcoming offenses.
Jackson made the Patriots as an undrafted rookie out of Maryland in 2018 and became an immediate contributor known for his ball-hawking ways. He recorded an impressive 25 interceptions in his five seasons with the Patriots, never missing a game in his final three seasons with the team, including a full slate of 17 starts in 2021, a season that earned him second-team All-Pro status and a trip to the Pro Bowl. Jackson will now look to recapture that magic in his second stint with New England.