ESPN pegs Arizona Cardinals as best fit for Patriots CB J.C. Jackson

Feb 15, 2022, 9:32 AM | Updated: Feb 16, 2022, 6:19 pm
J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots intercepts a pass during the third quarter against the...
J.C. Jackson #27 of the New England Patriots intercepts a pass during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals in the game at Paul Brown Stadium on December 15, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It’s not secret the Arizona Cardinals need to add to their cornerbacks room this offseason.

While the 2022 NFL Draft is an option, general manager Steve Keim will surely look to free agency to bolster the team’s depth at the position.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Matt Bowen took Arizona’s current state of CB affairs into account when looking at best free-agent fits from around the NFL, pairing New England defensive back J.C. Jackson to the franchise.

The Cardinals have shown they will do whatever it takes to win, and signing Jackson would be a win. A top-shelf cover corner in his prime with serious ball production (17 interceptions since 2020) gives Arizona just what it needs to stabilize the secondary – Fowler

Last season with the Patriots was one of the corner’s best. Jackson accounted for eight interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, a league-leading 23 passes defensed and 58 tackles over a full season of work. For his efforts, he was named a Pro Bowler and earned All-Pro second team honors.

Per Pro Football Focus, Jackson posted his best coverage (83) and overall defensive grades (82.7) in his career.

It would be an obvious upgrade at the position for Arizona. With Robert Alford and Antonio Hamilton set to test free agency, the Cardinals defense features Byron Murphy and Marco Wilson as the only other cornerbacks with a good amount of playing time in 2021.

Jace Whittaker and Breon Borders, two practice squad pieces, were also signed to future deals shortly after the season came to end.

Jackson is an upper-tier corner in this league, with the coverage traits and playmaking ability to consistently find the ball. It’s an easy transition here to Vance Joseph’s scheme, where we should see more man coverage and pressure with Jackson in the mix – Bowen

As for a pair of Cardinals free agents in outside linebacker Chandler Jones and wide receiver Christian Kirk? The pair of ESPN writers have their best fits elsewhere in the NFL.

For Jones, it’s a return back to where his career started in New England.

At this stage, Jones — who turns 32 this month — has good reason to seek a contending team. New England showed a willingness to spend big in last year’s free agency, and it can use its familiarity with Jones’ game to pair him with Matthew Judon off the edge. Jones could also serve as a hybrid weapon for the Patriots – Fowler

Jones is coming off a 10.5-sack, 26-QB hit season with the Cardinals. before heading to the desert in 2016, the linebacker spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Patriots, winning Super Bowl XLIX.

Kirk, on the other hand, sticks around the NFC with the Detroit Lions.

A consistent route runner on schemed concepts who can also create for himself, Kirk would bring speed and vertical ability to the Lions’ pass game, which would complement the play style of Amon-Ra St. Brown in Detroit – Bowen

The Valley native paced Arizona’s pass catchers in 2021 in receptions (77) and receiving yards (982). He trailed only DeAndre Hopkins (eight), who played 10 games last season, in touchdowns with five.

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ESPN pegs Arizona Cardinals as best fit for Patriots CB J.C. Jackson