Patriots To Release CB Jalen Mills

After working as a full-time starter for the Patriots over the past two seasons, Jalen Mills will return to free agency. The Patriots are releasing the veteran cornerback, Adam Schefter of tweets.

Mills, who has started 26 games for the Pats since 2021, was tied to a four-year deal worth $24MM. Two years remained on Mills’ contract, and the Patriots moving the veteran off the roster will create $4.9MM in cap space.

Having experience at both corner and safety, Mills should generate interest ahead of what will be his age-29 season. Mills did miss seven games in 2022, however, and Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the league’s worst corners last season — after the ex-Eagle had fared better during his Pats debut in 2021.

New England, which regularly lets veteran corner starters walk in free agency, made the move to give Jonathan Jones a third contract earlier this week. He joins two other Joneses — Marcus and Jack — at cornerback in New England. A groin injury led to Mills missing extensive time down the stretch for the Pats, who used Jonathan Jones — one of the NFL’s better slot corners of recent years — more on the outside in 2022. The veteran excelled in that capacity, and the team now has Jones on a two-year, $19MM deal. He accompanies rookie-contract players at the position, with Mills’ $6MM-AAV contract being moved off the payroll.

A former seventh-round pick, Mills quickly outplayed his draft slot by becoming a starter for the Eagles during their Super Bowl LII-winning season. The Eagles turned to Mills as a starter throughout the 2017 regular season and into the playoffs that year. Injuries plagued Mills over the next two seasons, and the Eagles — after acquiring Darius Slay via trade — shifted him to safety in his contract year. The Pats still gave Mills $9MM guaranteed and paid him for two seasons, but the 6-foot defender will need to find a new team to play an eighth NFL slate.

Even with Bill Belichick‘s ability to churn out quality cornerback play and his collection of various Joneses at the position, the team should still be considered likely to address this position further in either free agency or the draft. After the Mills cut, the Pats hold more than $26MM in cap space.

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