Agent: Patriots CB JC Jackson deals with mental health issues
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots agent J.C. Jackson is dealing with mental health issues, his agent Neal Schwartz told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday after Jackson was active in the team’s 27-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs but did not play and was not released. He spotted her on the sidelines.
Jackson’s condition was the first topic coach Bill Belichick was asked about after the game.
Belichick simply said Jackson is unavailable. When asked why Jackson was on the game-day roster if he wasn’t available, Belichick responded: “He wasn’t available. Just leave it at that.”
A Patriots player expressed concern about Jackson in the locker room after the game but was unsure of the circumstances that led to Jackson not playing. Jackson’s absence led to undrafted starter Alex Austin in his place.
“I found out right when the game started that my number had been called,” Austin said. “It was a surprise.”
Teams are required to declare their inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff, and at that point, the Patriots were planning to have Jackson ready to start the game at 1 p.m. ET. As a result, they declared Shawn Wade inactive for the third year.
But with Jackson suddenly unavailable and Wade inactive, the Patriots were short-handed at cornerback against Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who finished 27 of 37 for 305 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Veteran Jonathan Jones, Austin and Myles Bryant were the only running backs remaining on the game-day roster, and Jones left with a knee injury at one point before returning.
Belichick compared Jackson’s absence to a situation where a backup is thrust into action due to injury.
“We all know that when the match starts, anything can happen. (This) happened a little while ago,” he said. “(Austin) was ready to play, he’s expected to play (and) he played a lot. It’s everyone’s job to be ready to go.”
Jackson, 28, was acquired from the Los Angeles Chargers in a trade on Oct. 5. He fell out of favor in Los Angeles after signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal in March 2022, and said he was returning to New England. Where he started his career from 2018 to 2021 – it felt like coming home.
After quickly rising to the starting role as the Patriots lost rookie Christian Gonzalez to a season-ending shoulder injury, Jackson did not make the team’s trip to Germany for the Nov. 12 game against the Colts. He confirmed to MassLive.com that he had missed a “bed check” at the team hotel the week before, which resulted in a discipline not to travel to the game.
“I would say I’m getting better mentally. The last year and a half has been up and down for me mentally,” Jackson told MassLive.com upon his return to the team. “You see us with these little helmets, but when we walk out these doors, we’re dealing with reality and what the average person has to deal with.”
Entering Sunday, Jackson had started six games for the Patriots this season, totaling 25 tackles and six passes defended.