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Chargers could be ‘in the mix’ for FA CBs Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson

Both Jackson and Gilmore would be upgrades for Brandon Staley’s Cover 2-heavy scheme.

NFL: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Getting the Chargers’ top trio of cornerbacks on the field at the same time was one of the team’s biggest struggles from this past season. For most of the season, usually one of Chris Harris, Michael Davis, or Asante Samuel Jr. were off the field due to an injury. Towards the middle of the season, it was a struggle to even have two of them on the field at the same time which led to plenty of inexperienced free agents going from the street to the field in a matter of days.

This offseason, reinforcing the secondary should be near the top of the team’s offseason checklist. Luckily for the fan base, they got some good news from a couple of NFL insiders in regards to two of the top cornerbacks from this year’s class.

On Sunday, insider Mike Garafolo tweeted out that the Chargers are a team to “keep an eye on” and that they could be in the mix for either J.C. Jackson (8 INTs in 2021) or Stephon Gilmore (2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year) when the free agency period opens next week.

Jackson was named a Second-Team All-Pro this past season while also being named to the first Pro Bowl of his career. In just four seasons, Jackson has collected 25 total interceptions with 17 of those coming over his past two campaigns. His 82.7 overall grade by Pro Football Focus in 2021 was the best of his career, along with a high mark of 83.0 in coverage after breaking up a 12 passes.

In Gilmore’s first year outside of New England, he managed to play in just eight games for the Panthers. He finished the season with a pair of interceptions and an overall grade of 77.1, the fourth-highest mark of his career. Over his 10 years in the NFL, Gilmore has picked off 27 passes and broken up 116 others. He’s been named to five Prow Bowls and was named First-Team All-Pro for both the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In ‘19, Gilmore tied for the league lead with six interceptions.

Jackson is likely the more ideal signing in this situation given his age and incredible production. While Gilmore has been one of the best over the past few seasons, his advanced age (32 in September) could be a cause for concern. History suggest cornerbacks over the age of 30 tend to fall off quite dramatically and the Chargers already have an example of that on the roster in Harris.

When it comes to what the Chargers need in this “win now” window running parallel with Justin Herbert’s contract, an aging corner who may be on the downslide doesn’t sound like the smartest move by a head coach who knows the analytics as well as anyone.

As always, let me know in the comments below what you all think of the potentially adding one of these notable cornerbacks.