BOSTON (CBS) — We’ve been so focused on unrestricted free agents in New England, it was easy to forget about the Patriots’ biggest restricted free agent. That would be standout cornerback J.C. Jackson, whom the team reportedly hit with a second-round tender on Wednesday.

In doing so, the Patriots would now get a second-round pick in this year’s draft should they not match an offer sheet that Jackson receives from another team. Chances are they would match, given how important Jackson is to the New England secondary, but only time will tell on that front. The deadline for team’s to submit an offer sheet is April 23, roughly a week ahead of the the NFL Draft.

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That second-round tender also comes with a $3.384 million salary in 2021, which would make Jackson an absolute bargain if he’s back in New England.

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It’s a bit interesting that the Patriots didn’t place a first-round tender on Jackson, as they’d then get a first-round pick should Jackson end up elsewhere. His contract wouldn’t have increased all that much either, with a first-round tender carrying a $4.76 million payday this offseason, which is also a steal for a guy like Jackson. Perhaps with a second-round tender, more teams will be interested in chatting with Jackson, which could help set the table for an extension in New England.

Jackson has been a stud in his three seasons with the Patriots after New England signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland in 2018. He’s started 22 of his 45 games with the Patriots, and after picking off six passes in 13 games in 2019, Jackson broke out in a big way with nine interceptions in 16 games (11 starts) in 2020.

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Those nine picks were tied for the second-most in the NFL, with his 14 passes defended ranking eighth.

CBSBoston.com Staff