AP sources: Chargers adding Jackson, Joseph-Day, Johnson

By Joe Reedy

General manager Tom Telesco continued the aggressive overhaul of the Los Angeles Chargers defense by agreeing to terms with three players.

The Chargers reached deals Monday with cornerback JC Jackson and defensive tackles Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson.

People familiar with the negotiations confirmed to The Associated Press that Jackson’s five-year contract is worth $82.5 million, with $40 million guaranteed, while Joseph-Day’s is three years and is worth 24. million ($15 million guaranteed). Jackson’s deal is for two years and could reach $14 million if deals are struck.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreements cannot become official until Wednesday.

Los Angeles, 9-8 last season, got off to a 4-1 start but missed the playoffs for the third straight season, winning back-to-back games just once after Week 5 and losing three of its last four games.

One of the main reasons for the woes down the stretch was a defense that was ranked 23rd overall, but was even worse in key areas. The Chargers allowed 269 points in the second half and overtime, tied with the 2015 New Orleans Saints for most since 1991. The offenses converted 49.5% of their third chances, the third highest rate since 1991.

The 30th-ranked run defense gave up 138.9 yards per game, the worst by a Chargers defense since 2003.

The Chargers already caused a stir last Thursday when they agreed to acquire rusher Khalil Mack from the Chicago Bears for two draft picks. Coach Brandon Staley hopes Jackson can have the same kind of impact Jalen Ramsey did when Staley coordinated the Rams’ league-best defense in 2020.

Jackson has become one of the best free agents available after the New England Patriots did not apply the franchise tag to him last week. The 26-year-old cornerback earned his first Pro Bowl selection last season, leading the league with 23 passes defended, and was second with eight interceptions. He has 25 picks over the past four seasons, most in the league.

Jackson joins safety Derwin James in the secondary and improves a cornerback position that struggled last season. Michael Davis was inconsistent in his coverage and Asante Samuel Jr., a rookie, suffered injuries at the end of the year.

Jackson is also coming to AFC West, which expects to have the biggest collection of quarterbacks in the league. The Chargers have Justin Herbert, but they will face Patrick Mahomes of Kansas City, Russell Wilson of Denver and Derrick Carr of Las Vegas.

“You’re in five defensive backs at 65% or more, so the corner is definitely going to be something we’re looking at,” Staley said at the recent NFL scouting meeting in Indianapolis. “We’re always going to watch that as long as I’m the head coach. You are aware of these receivers that we must defend.

Joseph-Day knows Staley’s plan after playing for the Rams in 2020. He missed most of last season after tearing a pectoral muscle in late October, but returned to play in the Super Bowl. He excelled against the run in 2020 and is likely to take over from Linval Joseph, who is a free agent after two seasons.

Johnson had 72 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks last season, starting all 17 games for the New York Giants. He was drafted by Tennessee in the second round in 2016 and used primarily as a rotating defensive tackle on ongoing plays.


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