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Veteran cornerback J.C. Jackson was released by the Patriots on March 1, but a return to New England is still very possible as Jackson and the Patriots have mutual interest, according to ESPN.

If Jackson does return, he will be playing under a new head coach in Jerod Mayo, after the Patriots parted ways with long-time leader Bill Belichick. Mayo said Jackson could be in better shape this season, being two years recovered from his ACL injury, per Patriots beat writer Taylor Kyles

The Patriots are not desperate for another cornerback, so Jackson wouldn't likely be too high on the depth chart. Last year's first-round pick Christian Gonzalez will be in the starting lineup, and Jonathan Jones is expected to be starting on the other side. 

The two sides have a long history, dating back to 2018 when the Patriots signed Jackson as an undrafted free agent. He remained with the team through 2020, winning a Super Bowl and getting All-Pro second team honors during his three seasons there. The 28-year-old then headed to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2022, but did not see as much success there as in New England. The struggles, mixed with a season-ending injury eventually led to his benching and his return to the Patriots in 2023.

Jackson's second stint with the Patriots began after Gonzalez suffered a season-ending injury. He joined the team in October, playing in eight games in 2023, starting six. He was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list in December.

The cornerback's career has been up and down, with 201 total tackles, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries, 64 pass deflections, 26 interceptions and one defensive touchdown. In 2021, he led the league in pass deflections with 23, the same year he had career highs in combined tackles (58), solo tackles (44), assisted tackles (14) and touchdowns (1).