FOXBORO — The Patriots made a transfer Wednesday indicating that they’re not prepared to surrender on the 2023 season simply but, regardless of some horrible damage luck.
Patriots cornerback Christian Gonzalez is predicted to overlook the remainder of the 2023 season with a separated shoulder and torn labrum, in response to NFL Media. In response, the Patriots reacquired cornerback JC Jackson in a commerce with the Chargers for a late-round decide swap.
The information on Gonzalez is brutal. There’s no different strategy to put it. The 2023 first-round decide instantly appeared like among the finest cornerbacks within the NFL, protecting Eagles vast receivers A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith, Dolphins vast receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, Jets vast receiver Garrett Wilson and Cowboys vast receiver CeeDee Lamb, and largely limiting them, out of the gate.
Gonzalez ranked fifth in PFF’s general defensive grade amongst 74 certified cornerbacks earlier than his damage. He was tenth in protection grade.
Gonzalez was named the NFL’s defensive rookie of the month of September. He was stabilizing a secondary that was lacking Jack Jones, Marcus Jones and Jonathan Jones early this season.
But Jackson will assist. And the transfer was a no brainer after the Chargers reportedly picked up nearly all of the 2021 second-team All-Pro’s $9.33 million base wage by way of a signing bonus.
Jackson started his profession with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland. The Patriots let him stroll in free company in 2022 when he signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Chargers.
The transfer didn’t pan out for the Chargers. Jackson missed most of final season with a patellar tendon rupture and was benched this season. Through two video games, he has three tackles. He was a wholesome scratch in Week 3 and dressed however didn’t play in snaps in Week 4.
One supply believed Los Angeles was a nasty match for Jackson on and off the sector, and that confirmed up final season even earlier than his damage. The hope is that Jackson will totally get better his skill to alter route and match routes as he continues the rehab on his knee. And that he’ll be extra targeted with the Patriots like he was from 2018 to 2021.
Jackson lately informed reporters that he was not but 100% and that he was confused by his benching in Los Angeles.
Jackson was one of many NFL’s greatest cornerbacks whereas in New England from 2018 to 2021. He led the NFL with 25 interceptions throughout his mixed tenure with the Patriots. He was third with 53 cross breakups throughout that span, and he had one pick-six.
“He had great years when he was here,” Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai mentioned Wednesday. “I’m excited to see him back in a Patriots uniform.”
Jackson was coming off of his greatest season with the Patriots earlier than signing with the Chargers. He was named to the Pro Bowl and earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2021 after registering eight interceptions, 23 cross breakups and a pick-six.
“That year, he made a lot of plays, that’s for sure,” tight finish Hunter Henry mentioned Wednesday. “He’s a ball hawk, was around the ball it seemed like all the time. So, excited to have a guy like that back in this scheme.”
Jack Jones and Marcus Jones stay on injured reserve. Jonathan Jones has missed the final three video games with an ankle damage. That has left the Patriots with Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade as their high cornerbacks. The staff additionally has rookie sixth-round decide Ameer Speed on the 53-man roster and Breon Borders and Azizi Hearn on the observe squad. Safety Jalen Mills performed within the slot Week 4 towards the Cowboys after Gonzalez suffered his damage within the first quarter whereas Bryant and Wade had been aligned outdoors.
Bryant is greatest served as a “Swiss Army Knife” within the Patriots’ protection, as teammates have known as him. He’s a greater slot cornerback and security than he’s as an outdoor cornerback. His limitations confirmed up Sunday one play after Gonzalez went down when Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott focused him on a 20-yard landing cross to Lamb. Wade was a considerably stunning inclusion on the 53-man roster. He started the season sixth on the Patriots’ cornerback depth chart behind Gonzalez, Jonathan Jones, Jack Jones, Marcus Jones and Bryant.
Jackson and Jack Jones match greatest because the Patriots’ outdoors cornerbacks when each can be found. Jonathan Jones has traditionally performed his greatest soccer from the slot. That would release Bryant to play extra of a hybrid position with Wade serving as a backup outdoors.
In a really perfect world, the Patriots would be capable of pair Gonzalez with Jackson, however that’s not taking place. Acquiring Jackson by way of commerce is a next-best state of affairs to assist fill the void that Gonzalez’s damage leaves.
“JC was a great player,” quarterback Mac Jones mentioned. “Obviously he taught me a lot my rookie year. Just aggressive. He has a very good knack for the ball.”