The New York Giants have a number of interesting decisions to make with their own unrestricted free agents this offseason. One of those involves veteran cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.
Reasons to keep him
A team can never have enough good cover cornerbacks, and despite not having had his best season in 2023 Jackson remains one of those.
Jackson has been a good, selfless player and teammate in three seasons with the Giants. He returned punts in 2022 for the first time in several seasons, something he probably should not have been doing and that ended up with him being injured. This year, he willingly moved into the slot at the beginning of the season to accommodate the Giants’ desire to give Tre Hawkins III a chance to play on the outside.
Jackson, at times, has been forced into the role of No. 1 cornerback. He has neither the lockdown ability nor the ball skills to truly be considered that, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a good, starting-caliber cornerback. He certainly is.
As I consider players the Giants should keep or move on from, the reality that the Giants were a 6-11 team that can’t be in the business of hemorrhaging talent they do have is one I keep coming back to.
That would be an argument for keeping Jackson, provided he is willing to accept a short-term deal.
Reasons to let him go
Jackson was making top-tier cornerback money for the Giants the last three seasons. His $13 million average annual value was 13th among NFL cornerbacks. Good player? Yes. One of the NFL’s best 13 cornerbacks? No.
The drafting of Tae Banks in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft always felt like it might bring an end to Jackson’s tenure with the Giants. Banks showed in 2023 that he is on a path to becoming a No. 1 cornerback, if he isn’t that already. That, honestly, means that in terms of roster-building and use of resources the Giants probably should not pay Jackson like something he isn’t.
Jackson, who will be 29 next season, has seen his production dip in each of the last two seasons. In 2021, Jackson had a 69.0 passer rating against while allowing 9.3 yards per completion. In 2022, those numbers were 83.9 and 12.8. In 2023, 95.5 and a career-worst 13.0. He also allowed a career-worst 390 yards after catch.
So, while still good the numbers indicate a declining player.
A little bit like the Giants had Jason Pinnock ready to step in for Julian Love a season ago, the Giants might already have a replacement for Jackson on the roster.
In limited opportunities over two seasons, Nick McCloud has played well. McCloud, 25, played 312 defensive snaps in 2023. He gave up 14 completions in 23 targets (60.9% completions) with a passer rating against of 72.4.
The Giants also have Hawkins, a sixth-round pick they remain high on despite his struggles at the beginning of the 2023 season. Cor’Dale Flott has emerged as a quality slot cornerback, so that avenue for playing time is also mostly closed for Jackson.
Move on. Someone will likely give Jackson more money than they probably should. The Giants are in a place where they should be spending their biggest chunks of money on players entering, not passing, their prime years.