AFC West Notes: Jackson, Jones, Broncos

J.C. Jackson suffered a ruptured patellar tendon during an Oct. 23 Chargers-Seahawks matchup. While this injury is among the toughest to surmount for an NFLer, the high-priced Bolts cornerback expects to be ready for training camp. Jackson has an appointment with the surgeon who performed his surgery, Dr. Neal El Attrache, this week,’s Lindsey Thiry notes. The sixth-year cornerback did not participate in the Chargers’ minicamp practices and will be a candidate to begin camp on the team’s active/PUP list. The Chargers could remove him from that list once he is cleared to practice. Only a placement on the reserve/PUP list once 53-man rosters are set would delay Jackson’s 2023 debut.

The Chargers, who gave Jackson a five-year deal worth $82.5MM in 2022, did not draft a cornerback or sign a notable free agent. The team has not re-signed veteran slot defender Bryce Callahan, though Asante Samuel Jr. has experience playing both inside and outside. A Callahan return would provide some insurance for the Bolts, but the 31-year-old cover man remains a free agent. Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • In talks with the Chiefs about a third contract, Chris Jones skipped minicamp and is lobbying to become the NFL’s second-highest-paid defensive tackle behind Aaron Donald. While these negotiations might bring complications — due to Donald’s AAV being $8.2MM north of the current second-highest-paid DT (Jeffery Simmons) —’s Albert Breer expects it to be finalized before training camp. It does not sound like these are particularly acrimonious negotiations. It will be interesting to see if Jones makes an aggressive push to approach a Donald-level salary, since the Chiefs would be unlikely to franchise-tag him in 2024 because of the 120% rule. The team tagged Jones in 2020, making his 2024 tag price 120% of his 2023 pay. That would give Jones a $33MM-plus cap figure if re-tagged, providing the All-Pro with leverage ahead of his latest platform year.
  • Shifting back to the secondaries in this division, the Broncos did brought back one of their veteran DBs midway through the offseason. Kareem Jackson re-signed for a fifth year in Denver. But the 14th-year pro only secured $153K guaranteed. That opens the door for the Broncos to move on, and 9News’ Mike Klis notes Caden Sterns is making his strongest effort yet to unseat Jackson for the safety gig alongside Justin Simmons. A 2021 fifth-round pick, Sterns has worked as Denver’s top backup safety for two seasons. A season-ending hip injury halted that run last year, and while Sterns entered the offseason as no lock to be ready for training camp, he made it back during Denver’s OTA sessions and participated in minicamp. Simmons and Jackson, 35, have been Denver’s safety starters since 2019.
  • The Chargers also added to their staff recently. They hired Noah Evangelides as a football research analyst, Neil Stratton of tweets. Evangelides most recently served as a Northwestern graduate assistant.
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