J.C. Jackson has established himself as a key member of the New England Patriots defense. In fact, he may have established himself as one of the top cornerbacks in the league.
Jackson tallied nine interceptions in 2020, trailing only Miami Dolphins CB Xavien Howard (10) for the NFL lead. He has more picks (14) than any other corner since 2019.
The 25-year-old isn't lacking in confidence, either. Asked if he considers himself a No. 1 corner, he gave a pretty clearcut answer.
"Of course I am," Jackson told NFL Media's Mike Giardi. "I would never settle for less. I would never say I'm No. 2, No. 3. I'm No. 1."
Following Jackson's big year, some expected a big payday for the Maryland product. But when a long-term contract extension didn't come, he instead signed a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $3.38 million in 2021.
Jackson isn't losing sleep over the lack of a long-term deal.
"I didn't get no extension. So what? Who cares? I know it's coming. I just love the game, man," he said. "The money is going to come. I just love playing football."
Depending on the outcome of Stephon Gilmore's holdout, the Patriots may have to count on Jackson to prove his status as a No. 1 cornerback. Judging by his comments -- and his performance in 2020 -- he's up for the challenge.