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Patriots release J.C. Jackson, now have $101m cap space

The New England Patriots have released cornerback J.C. Jackson ahead of free agency, taking their cap space above the $100million mark.

Jackson was initially picked up by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2018, helping the team win Super Bowl LIII in his debut campaign before earning Pro Bowl honours in 2021.

He joined the Los Angeles Chargers on a five-year, $82.5m contract in 2022, but was traded back to the Patriots in October after falling out of favour, with New England seeking cover for injured rookie Christian Gonzalez.

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Jackson was widely expected to depart at the end of Bill Belichick’s disappointing final season in charge of the Patriots, having been placed on the non-football illness reserve list in December.

The 28-year-old’s agent Neil Schwartz subsequently told ESPN he was dealing with mental health issues.

While Jackson restructured his contract when returning to New England, leaving him with a base salary of $2m for 2023, he was due to receive around $12m per season for 2024, 2025 and 2026.

That burden made it likely the Patriots would cut the veteran, and that move was made official on Friday, saving them $13.5m in cap space ahead of Jerod Mayo’s first season in charge.

New England’s total cap space now stands at just over $101m according to Over the Cap, the most in the NFL. Mayo is expected to oversee a reset of their roster this offseason, with the team likely to use their number three overall draft pick on a quarterback.

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