Patriots release J.C. Jackson, up cap space ahead of free agency

March 1, 2024, 5:09 PM

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots released cornerback J.C. Jackson on Friday, an expected move due to financial considerations.

The Patriots had acquired Jackson from the Los Angeles Chargers in October after they lost rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez, a 2023 first-round pick, to a season-ending shoulder injury. Jackson had fallen out of favor with the Chargers, who signed him to a five-year, $82.5 million contract as a free agent in March 2022.

As part of the trade, which included a swap of late-round 2025 draft picks, Jackson had reworked his contract to significantly lessen the financial burden on the Patriots in 2023 with a base salary of $2 million.

But Jackson's base salaries for 2024, 2025 and 2026 were all in the $12 million range, making it unlikely he would still be in New England under those terms.

Releasing him creates about $13.5 million in cap space, and the Patriots now have more than $101 million in space, per Roster Management System, as they start a rebuild under first-year coach Jerod Mayo and with director of scouting Eliot Wolf having final personnel authority.

Jackson played in nine games for the Patriots last season (six starts), but didn't accompany the team to its November game in Germany after he missed a curfew. Jackson later ended the year on the reserve/non-football injury list because of what his agent described as "mental health issues."

In all, Jackson has played in 77 career regular-season games, totaling 26 interceptions, although just one of those came over the past two seasons.