Green Bay Packers Should Trade Josh Jackson If They Can

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 13: Josh Jackson #37 of the Green Bay Packers looks on before the first half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - DECEMBER 13: Josh Jackson #37 of the Green Bay Packers looks on before the first half against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Is there a trade market out there for Josh Jackson? Well, that’s the million-dollar question in all of this. If there is, then the Green Bay Packers should be trying to strike up a deal as we speak.

The Packers spent a second-round pick on Jackson during the 2018 draft, and as expected for a rookie, he took his lumps over the course of that first season. He was targeted heavily by opposing quarterbacks, giving up a high completion rate, and very grabby, which led to penalties. Again, to some degree, that should have been expected.

The issue since then is that we haven’t seen much — if any — improvement. In fact, after being on the field for 721 snaps during that 2018 season, he hasn’t even been close to that over the last two. In 2019, an injury early on in training camp would send Jackson falling down the depth chart. Then in 2020, while he did fill in for Kevin King, we saw those same problems plague him. On 22 targets, Jackson allowed 15 completions, he missed tackles, and was penalized six times, per PFF ($$).

Even worse, by the playoffs, Jackson was a healthy scratch–showing that the team not only didn’t need him on defense but that he also wasn’t providing any value on special teams either.

As we look ahead to 2021, perhaps the zone-heavy Joe Barry scheme will help revitalize Jackson’s career. Although now entering Year 4, that seems like a rather optimistic outlook. While Jackson taking a step forward would give this already stout secondary a boost, at this point in his football career, I think we know who he is at this point–hopefully, he proves me wrong.

With Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, Eric Stokes, Chandon Sullivan, Shemar Jean-Charles, Kabion Ento, Stanford Samuels, and Ka’dar Hollman at the cornerback position, Jackson is absolutely fighting for a roster spot this summer, and realistically, there may only be one up for grabs if Green Bay chooses to keep six as they’ve done in the past.

We all know that the Green Bay Packers are cap-strapped and are still in need of creating additional space, as Brian Gutekunst alluded to before the draft. By cutting or trading Jackson, the team can create an additional $1.33 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap. Not a huge amount by any means, but for a Packers squad that has been nickel and diming their way to cap space this offseason, it certainly helps.

Given how Jackson’s career has gone up to this point, the initial thought might be that finding a trade partner would be a tall task. However, we’ve seen countless times in the NFL that high-pedigree draft picks get second and third chances often–even if they’ve struggled. If there’s a team out there that liked Jackson coming out of Iowa and believes that a change of scenery and their defensive scheme could turn him around, then Green Bay may be able to squeeze a late Day 3 pick out of all of this.

To play devil’s advocate, a team certainly could just wait and see if Jackson does get cut, but there is some risk involved with that approach. By waiting, there is the possibility that the interested team will now be vying for Jackson’s services against several others. Whereas with a trade, there is more control–if you’re willing to meet the asking price, you’ll get the player.

We still have to see how things will unfold during training camp and the preseason, but if the Packers do believe that there’s the possibility that Jackson can contribute this season, then it’s worth seeing how he performs. Jackson contributing to this team is far more valuable than a sixth or seventh-round pick. With that said, from our vantage point, that would appear to be a big “if.”

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On the flip side, if trying to salvage his career here in Green Bay is a lost cause, then Gutey should be on the phone, seeing if there is any interest out there. Not that adding another Day 3 pick is going to make or break next year’s draft — of course it isn’t — but when the other alternative is letting Jackson go for nothing, the Packers might as well see if they can get anything in return.