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J.C. Jackson named Chagers’ biggest X-factor for 2023

After a year cut short by injury, Jackson is ready for the chance to show who he really is in Los Angeles.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

J.C. Jackson’s first year with the LA Chargers came with sky-high expectations following his final two seasons with New England where he picked off an whopping 17 passes. However, a nagging ankle condition caused him to have minor surgery prior to the regular season which caused him to come out of the gates a lot slower than he wanted.

After some very up-and-down play through his first four games (missed weeks one and three), Jackson suffered a ruptured patellar tendon against the Seahawks which caused him to miss the remainder of the season. He’d end his first season in LA with 15 tackles, two pass breakups, and zero interceptions. While on the field, he was also on pace to allow career-highs in yards per reception, yards per target, touchdowns, receiving yards, and completion percentage.

That’s a far cry from what the Chargers thought they were getting when they signed him to a five-year, $82.5 million deal earlier that year.

Jackson’s heard all the talk this offseason. It’s only fueled him to come back stronger than ever to actually prove to the fan base his time in New England wasn’t just a product of the system they ran. It’s with this in mind that Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox believes Jackson could be the biggest X-factor when it comes to the success of the Chargers in 2023.

Here’s everything Knox had to say about Jackson and what he could mean for the defense this year:

“Seeking a top-tier cornerback to pair with Asante Samuel Jr., the Los Angeles Chargers gave J.C. Jackson a massive five-year, $82.5 million deal in 2022 free agency. To say that the return on investment has been poor would be an understatement. Jackson struggled early with the Chargers, allowing an opposing passer rating of 149.3 in coverage. He also suffered a torn patellar tendon that ended his campaign after only five games.”

“Jackson is close to a return and plans to be available in Week 1. The unknown is if he’ll be at 100 percent and can return to the Pro Bowl form he last had with the New England Patriots in 2021.”

“The Chargers could desperately use that version of Jackson in their secondary. Los Angeles has loads of offensive talent but ranked only 20th in yards allowed per pass last season. The Chargers’ inability to contain opposing passing attacks played a big role in their inability to protect a 27-point lead against the Jaguars in the wild-card round.”

“If Los Angeles hopes to be more than just a postseason footnote in 2023, it needs a secondary that can hold up against the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Trevor Lawrence and Joe Burrow. Jackson can help provide it if he can bounce back from a very forgettable year.”

As it stands, Jackson’s cap hit for this season and next are $17 million and $19.35, respectively. His dead cap hits the remaining four years are $32 million, $15 million, $10 million, and $5 million. If Jackson doesn’t bounce back in the way that everyone in the league expects him to, the Chargers will unfortunately be tied to him pretty heavily through 2025.