Updated: Jun 16
Better In New England
Written by: Wayne G
In a recent interview, after the posting of the NFL schedule, former Patriot and current Charger J.C. Jackson said the following: "It's a revenge game for me. I'm excited to back and pick Mac Jones off and show them why they should have never let me go."
It's a right of the offseason, like melting snow, for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots to let go of impending free agents who are set to make career high money. In 2023, that role was played by WR Jakobi Meyers. The fans groan for a bit, but by the end of the year they have forgotten that the player was ever here. The reason is simple. A player who plays for the Patriots, will never be as good, and certainly never better, than when he wore the red, white, and blue.
J.C. Jackson (2022)
The 2021 season for J.C. Jackson was arguably the best for any cornerback that season. He was targeted 98 times by opposing quarterbacks, and allowed only 50 receptions. He defended 23 of those passes (first in the NFL) and recorded 8 interceptions. Calling it a mistake to throw to his side is an understatement, and he certainly earned a huge payday. When it came to negotiations though, the Patriots made their offer, but as is usually the case with impending free agents, someone made a better offer, and he signed with the Los Angeles Chargers for 5 years and $82.5 million contract with $40 million guaranteed. His stat line last season? Only 5 games played, allowing 19 catches on 27 targets. Just 2 passes defended.
Stephon Gilmore (2021)
Cornerback is a position that is definitely a revolving door in New England, no matter how good a player is perceived to be. In 2020, one season removed from being the leagues DPOY, Gilmore was a pro bowler yet again.
He allowed 27 catches on 42 targets (teams were not so keen at throwing his way, as they were Jackson). He was the defacto shut down corner for the Patriots, but at the end of the year they decided he was not a part of their future. He was released, and signed with the Panthers, where he played only 9 games, and defended just 2 passes. In 2023, he will be on his third team in 3 years.
Malcolm Butler (2018)
Yet another cornerback on the list. As a Patriots fan, I can say the greatest super bowl moment of my life, was when Butler intercepted Russell Wilson to end Super Bowl XLVIII. From that point on, he became an absolute beast.
An undrafted free agent (like Jackson) who became a lock down man to man corner. His last season in New England, he had 12 passes defended and 3 forced fumbles. He was a trusted and reliable tackler, which is why I will still never understand why he was on the bench in the Super Bowl versus the Eagles, when all the patriots needed to win the game was one tackle. He signed a 5 year, $61 million contract with the Titans, including $30 million in guarantees. They released him after 3 seasons, and he is not currently on an NFL roster.
Jamie Collins (Multiple)
Collins is the perfect example of the thesis of this article. He plays great with the Patriots, signs somewhere else for big money, doesn't play as good, goes back to the Patriots, repeat, repeat.
He is athletic and versatile, yet only Bill Belichick seems to get decent production out of him. Something neither the Browns, not the Lions were able to do. He is back with New England so far, for 2023, and it would surprise nobody if he had a 10 sack season, gets a 3 year deal somewhere else, and finds himself back on the Patriots by the end of the second year of that deal.
At the end of the day, any player who plays on the New England Patriots, will never be as good again if he goers somewhere else. Unless he comes back again. This is why we don't fret the off season, losing players, and why we shout as loud as we can "IN BILL WE TRUST!!!"