After letting J.C. Jackson walk in free agency, a decision consistent with offseason cornerback choices in the recent past, the Patriots will have a transition to make. But the team does return some talent at the position. One of those players made a long-awaited return to work Monday.
The Patriots activated Jonathan Jones from their active/PUP list. The team’s primary slot corner, Jones was lost early during the 2021 season, going down with a shoulder injury in Week 6. Offseason safety addition Jabrill Peppers, who suffered an ACL tear days after Jones went down, is also back at practice for New England. The team also activated defensive back Myles Bryant from its active/non-football injury list.
Jones, 28, and Devin McCourty are the only secondary cogs left to have played regular roles in the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl season. A former UDFA, Jones has been a key member of the Pats’ secondary since the 2017 season. New England gave the Auburn alum a three-year, $21MM extension just before the 2019 season. Jones graded as one of the top corners in football in his most recent full season (2020), per Pro Football Focus; his deal expires after the 2022 campaign.
Peppers was linked in trades ahead of last year’s deadline, but his injury nixed any move. The Giants let the 2019 trade acquisition walk this offseason. The former first-round pick saw his role decrease in 2021, with the Giants using Xavier McKinney and ex-Patriot Logan Ryan more often on their back line, but has made 59 career starts and was the No. 25 overall pick in 2017.
This will be Peppers’ age-27 season. The Pats, who signed Peppers for just $2MM, added the Michigan product to a deep safety corps — one that has McCourty back alongside Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger.