Jalen Mills

Giants To Add DB Jalen Mills

For a second straight offseason, the Giants have lost a starting safety. Xavier McKinney following Julian Love out of New York creates a void. They will bring in Jalen Mills to help fill it.

The former Patriots and Eagles defender is joining the Giants, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets. Mills has experience at safety and cornerback but played more on the back line last season. The Giants need more help at that spot.

The former seventh-round pick quickly burst onto the scene in 2016, but after missing only one game through his first two seasons in Philly, he was limited to 17 games between 2018 and 2019. When he returned in 2020, he was playing safety, and he proceeded to have one of the most productive seasons of his career, finishing with a career-high 74 tackles.

That performance earned him a four-year, $24MM contract from the Patriots in 2021. He started all 26 of his appearances through his first two seasons in New England, mostly playing cornerback. He was cut and re-signed last offseason and transitioned back to safety, where he got into 17 games (eight starts). He only graded 75th among 95 qualifying safeties on Pro Football Focus, although the site did give him one of the highest grades at his position in run defense.

The Giants do have some continuity among their safeties corps with Jason Pinnock. Mills will likely be in the mix for the other safety spot, competing with the likes of former fourth-round pick Dane Belton for reps.

Patriots “Sniffing Around” At Potential Trades

We heard earlier this week that the Patriots were “willing to listen to offers” leading up to the trade deadline. According to Albert Breer of SI.com, New England’s front office may be the side that is initiating trade talks.

[RELATED: Latest On Patriots’ Deadline Plans]

The Patriots are “sniffing around” to see what draft compensation they could get for some of their logical trade candidates. Breer points to offensive lineman Michael Onwenu, safety Kyle Dugger, and defensive end Josh Uche as players who could be on the trade block. All three players are impending free agents, and despite possessing a chunk of 2024 cap space, the organization may want to move on from players they may not re-sign.

Breer opines that Uche is the player who’s most likely to be traded since he’d “probably be the most difficult of the group to re-sign.” The former second-round pick has followed up his 11.5-sack 2022 campaign by collecting six tackles and two sacks in six games this year. While his numbers this season are underwhelming, his pass-rushing ability means the Patriots would still be able to bring back a worthwhile return in a trade. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler agrees that Uche is a name “worth watching,” noting that the pass-rusher has garnered trade interest around the NFL. Likewise, based on his conversations with multiple teams, Mike Giardi of the Boston Sports Journal believes Uche has the best chance of any current Patriot to be dealt.

On the flip side, Breer thinks Onwenu is the least likely of the group to be traded. The Patriots will use the rest of the 2023 campaign to evaluate Mac Jones, and Breer can’t envision the organization hurting the QB’s chances by subtracting from the offense. Following that same logic, Breer also doesn’t see wide receiver Kendrick Bourne getting traded, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com does not think New England will part with any top talent unless it receives at least a third-round pick in return. Of course, if another club were willing to take on an onerous contract (JuJu Smith-SchusterDeVante Parker) as part of a deal for a player like Uche, the Pats would certainly listen.

Breer adds one more name to the list of potential trade candidates: Jalen Mills. The defensive back has served in a variety of roles with the Patriots since joining the organization in 2021. Mills got through two years of his four-year, $24MM deal before getting cut back in March, but he quickly rejoined the Patriots on a new pact. While the Patriots have dealt with a number of injuries in their secondary, Mills has only seen time in 26 percent of New England’s defensive snaps this season.

NFL Contract Details: Woods, Fenton, Gaines, Jones, Mills

Here are some details on more deals signed around the NFL recently:

  • Jalen Mills, CB (Patriots): One year, $3.75MM. The new contract, according to Doug Kyed of AtoZ Sports, has a guaranteed amount of $2.25MM consisting of a $1.25MM signing bonus and $1MM of Mills’s base salary (worth a total of $1.75MM). Mills had taken a $3.5MM pay cut in order to stay with the team, but New England provided him with $3.6MM of potential incentives based on playing time. Mills can earn $600,000 for each of these thresholds of defensive snap count percentages: 42, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90. The deal also includes a per game active roster bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000.
  • Greg Gaines, DT (Buccaneers): One year, $3.5MM. We reported a bit about the defensive tackle’s guaranteed deal worth a potential maximum of $4MM. Greg Auman of FOX Sports has added the detail that the contract has four void years to help spread out Gaines’s cap hit.
  • Rashad Fenton, CB (Cardinals): One year, $1.23MM. The contract, according to Balzer, has a guaranteed amount of $76,250 composed solely of the signing bonus. Fenton’s base salary is worth $1.08MM. He can earn an additional $76,250 as a roster bonus if he’s active for the team’s Week 1 matchup.
  • Josh Woods, LB (Cardinals): One year, $1.23MM. The deal, according to Howard Balzer of PHNX, has a guaranteed amount of $777,500 consisting of a $152,500 signing bonus and $625,000 of Woods’s base salary (worth a total of $1.08MM).
  • Sidney Jones IV, CB (Bengals): One year, $1.13MM. The deal, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2, is for the veteran league minimum. Jones can make an additional $50,000 in a roster bonus if he’s active in the team’s Week 1 matchup.

Jalen Mills To Return To Patriots; Team Eyeing Position Change?

The Patriots will end up keeping Jalen Mills in the fold, after all. The two-year New England cornerback starter agreed to terms on a deal that will move him back onto the team’s offseason roster Wednesday morning, The Score’s Jordan Schultz tweets.

Mills will come back on a one-year deal worth up to $6.1MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Last week, the Pats made Mills a cap casualty by taking his four-year, $24MM contract off the books. But after re-signing Jonathan Jones, the team will give Mills another shot as well.

Mills’ release surfaced last week, but ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss adds it never ended up taking place. Rather, Wednesday’s transaction is a restructure that lops 2024 off Mills’ contract and turns 2023 into a pay cut featuring incentives.

A former Super Bowl starter in Philadelphia, Mills helped New England withstand the exits of Super Bowl-era regulars Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson. Mills fared better in 2021; a groin injury limited him to 10 games last season. Mills has experience at both cornerback and safety, playing the latter position in 2020 for the Eagles. Despite Devin McCourty‘s retirement, the Pats have three experienced safeties — Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers and Kyle Dugger — on the roster.

Although New England’s cornerback outlook is a bit foggier, Schultz adds the team is eyeing Mills as a safety. Mills should loom as the lead candidate to replace McCourty, NFL.com’s Mike Giardi tweets. Mills started 15 games for the Eagles at safety three seasons ago, but the Pats moved him back to corner during the 2021 offseason.

Pro Football Focus rated the former seventh-round find as a top-35 corner in 2021 but viewed him as a bottom-five player at the position last year. The 2021 assessment did come during a season in which Mills allowed seven touchdowns, but the 6-foot defender also finished that season having averaged 6.2 yards per target. The Patriots will see if he can prove worthy of a starting spot during his age-29 campaign.

Jones, 29, came back on a two-year, $19MM deal that included $13MM fully guaranteed. The versatile veteran will be back for an eighth season in New England. Rookie-contract players — Marcus and Jack Jones and Shaun Wade — comprise the other half of New England’s cornerback contingent, with the team extending an RFA tender to slot player Myles Bryant as well. The team will likely look at more upgrade options in the draft.

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 ESPN.com 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.

Patriots LS Joe Cardona Done For Year

One of New England’s longest-tenured players is done for the season. ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports (via Twitter) that long snapper Joe Cardona has a torn tendon in his foot and won’t play again this season.

The 30-year-old suffered a partial tear in his foot earlier this month, but he still managed to play through the injury in Week 15. It’s uncertain if Cardona made the injury worse by playing, but either way, he won’t be back on the field until the 2023 campaign. Reiss notes that the veteran is expected to be fully recovered by the spring.

Cardona made a name for himself when he became the fourth long snapper in NFL history to be drafted, with the Patriots selecting the Navy product in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. Cardona hasn’t missed a game since joining the organization, appearing in all of New England’s 127 regular season games and 13 playoff games over that stretch. During his time with New England, Cardona has earned a pair of Super Bowl rings. He was also named to the organization’s ‘All-Dynasty Team’ in 2020. Cardona inked a four-year extension with the Patriots in 2018 that is set to expire following this season.

Elsewhere on the injury front, receiver DeVante Parker and cornerback Jalen Mills will both be out again for the Patriots this weekend when they take on the Bengals. Running back Damien Harris, cornerback Jack Jones, and receivers Tyquan Thornton and Jakobi Meyers are all questionable for this weekend.

AFC Injury Rumors: Pats, White, Wilson

The Patriots will be facing off against the Cardinals on Monday night without a few key pieces. The team’s official injury report lists wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, cornerback Jalen Mills, and offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn as out for the game on Monday night.

Meyers is the team’s leading receiver. Despite trailing running back Rhamondre Stevenson for the team-lead in receptions, Meyers still leads the team in receiving yards, by a healthy margin, and receiving touchdowns with 593 yards and three scores. Without Meyers, quarterback Mac Jones will be throwing to DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, and rookie second-round pick Tyquan Thornton, among a few others. This is the third game of the year that Meyers will miss.

Mills, one of New England’s starters at cornerback, will also be missing his third game of the season and his second consecutive game. When Mills was out last week, the Patriots used a combination of fourth-round rookie Jack Jones, third-round rookie Marcus Jones, and Myles Bryant to replace him. I imagine the same approach will be used tomorrow night to handle Cardinals receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, and A.J. Green, as Rondale Moore is also reportedly out for Week 14.

The absence of Wynn, a starting tackle, is troubling for the Patriots, as their other starting tackle Trent Brown and backup tackle Yodny Cajuste are both listed as questionable heading into the week. The only tackle on the depth chart with no injury designation is Conor McDermott. Backup linemen James Ferentz and undrafted rookie Kody Russey are also available and starting guard Michael Onwenu could potentially kick out to tackle in an emergency.

Here are a few more injury rumors from around the conference, all concerning signal-callers in the AFC:

  • The Ravens started third-year quarterback Tyler Huntley in place of an injured Lamar Jackson today against the Steelers. The team called up practice squad quarterback, and undrafted rookie, Anthony Brown as a standard gameday elevation in case of emergency, and emergency struck when Huntley left the game in concussion protocol after a brutal blow from Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Brown wasn’t asked to do much but held on to the Ravens lead in a 16-14 win over the team’s division rival. Head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged that Brown would be playing next Sunday against the Browns if Huntley is unavailable but seemed to think Huntley will be just fine, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “He seems good to me. He’s reciting the months of the year backwards,” Harbaugh quipped with reporters. “Can you do that right now?”
  • Jets quarterback Mike White took a pounding today during a loss to the Bills in which Buffalo’s defense racked up eight quarterback hits and four sacks. White left the game twice after receiving shots to the ribs. Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco entered in place of White, but, both times, White returned to play and eventually finished a close game in Buffalo. Head coach Robert Saleh informed reporters that White was headed to the hospital after the game for precautionary checks, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. A follow-up provided that White did rejoin the team in time for the flight home after finishing up at the hospital, according to ESPN’s Rich Cimini. The quarterback situation next week will be something to keep an eye on. If starting quarterbacks Zach Wilson and White remain on the injury report, Flacco could earn his fourth start of the year and his first since September. Flacco would be set to face off against the Lions next week, a team he has never lost to in three matchups over 15 years in the league.
  • Another quarterback who took a beating today, Broncos signal-caller Russell Wilson was knocked out of today’s loss to the Chiefs with a concussion, according to the team’s official Twitter account. Wilson’s day was even more brutal than White’s as the Chiefs defense accounted for six sacks and 11 quarterback hits. Broncos third-year backup quarterback Brett Rypien would enter for Wilson and attempt to mount a comeback against the division rival Chiefs, falling just short when he was hit while throwing on the team’s final drive resulting in a duck of a pass that fluttered down into the waiting arms of Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. Since the loss today officially eliminated the Broncos from postseason contention, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Denver give its quarterback a rest, not rushing Wilson back to play for little-to-no reason. Wilson may be eager to return, but it wouldn’t be shocking if Rypien took the team the rest of the way.

Pats Re-Sign Veteran DB Devin McCourty

The Patriots are bringing back veteran defensive back Devin McCourty for another season, according to the twins’ joint-Twitter account earlier this evening. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the older twin will be returning on a one-year deal worth $9MM. 

McCourty has started every game he’s ever played for the Patriots. Over his 12-year career, McCourty has appeared in 188 regular season games and 24 playoff games, only missing 5 games throughout his career. While he’s never quite matched the production of his rookie year when he intercepted 7 passes and broke up 17, he has long been a staple in the New England secondary, never failing to secure an interception in a season.

The Patriots tend to play three safeties and two corners on defense a lot of the time. Relying on J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills to lock down outside receivers, McCourty, Adrian Phillips, and Kyle Dugger are able to roam around and cover based on matchups and formations. The trio of safeties produced 11 interceptions between them, with Dugger coming on strong in his second season. The Patriots would love to see Dugger seamlessly step in when the 34-year-old McCourty decides to hang up the cleats.

With Jackson heading to the open market, the Patriots’ cornerbacks cupboard is looking pretty bare. Behind Mills is third-year corner Joejuan Williams and reserve corner Justin Bethel. McCourty’s experience at corner could be useful, but should be thought of as a last resort, as most corners move to safety in their advanced age, not the other way around. More likely the Patriots will look to the Draft and free agency to fill that hole.

Regardless, the Patriots bring back a leader. A durable one. He may not be able to produce on the field like he did in the 2010’s, but his role as the quarterback of the secondary makes him a valuable addition to the team’s 2022 defense.

DB Rumors: Mills, Panthers, Seahawks, Colts

The Eagles moved Jalen Mills from cornerback to safety ahead of the 2020 offseason, when they re-signed him to a one-year contract. Mills began his first Patriots offseason at safety, but his new team has shuttled him back to his old job. Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips‘ early OTAs absences prompted the Pats to use Mills alongside Kyle Dugger at safety. But he spent the team’s final week of OTAs back at corner, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. With Stephon Gilmore holding out, Mills played opposite J.C. Jackson at corner Monday, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (subscription required). Thirty-four of Mills’ 49 NFL starts have come at corner, including 15 in the Eagles’ 2017 Super Bowl-winning season. Gilmore and the Pats are not believed to be close on an extension, clouding his future with the team and complicating New England’s cornerback outlook.

Here are some additional updates from NFL secondaries:

  • A.J. Bouye broke out as an outside corner with the Texans and made the Pro Bowl as a boundary defender with the Jaguars. The Broncos used Bouye on the outside as well last season. The Panthers have a different plan. Carolina DC Phil Snow told Bouye the team needs him in the slot, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required). After signing Bouye to a two-year, $7MM deal, the Panthers picked Jaycee Horn eighth overall. Horn and Donte Jackson are on track to be Carolina’s outside corners this season.
  • Panthers safety Jeremy Chinn underwent surgery for an injury that has bothered him since college. The second-year defender had what Matt Rhule described as a minor knee operation this offseason, but Carolina’s HC said the injury Chinn dealt with in 2020 had bothered him dating back to his Southern Illinois days (Twitter links via Person). Despite the injury, Chinn proved to be one of the NFL’s top rookies last season.
  • Richard Sherman surfaced on the Seahawks‘ radar recently, but he is taking his time on deciding his next team. The three-year 49ers corner did advise ex-teammate Ahkello Witherspoon to move to Seattle, however. The former Legion of Boom member told Witherspoon he would fit in well with the Seahawks, Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic notes. Witherspoon signed a one-year, $4MM contract with the Seahawks in March. A third-round 49ers pick in 2017, Witherspoon made a 30 visit to Seattle ahead of the draft four years ago.
  • The Cowboys did not use Reggie Robinson on defense in his rookie season, but they moved the 2020 fourth-round pick from cornerback to safety during training camp last year. While that change did not end up mattering during regular-season games, Robinson is now back at corner, Jon Machota of The Athletic notes.
  • Marvell Tell opted out of the 2020 season, but the former fifth-round pick is back at work with the Colts. Tell has joined the run of secondary position changes this offseason; the Colts have moved him from safety to corner, Stephen Holder of The Athletic writes. As a safety in 2019, Tell played 252 snaps and started one game. The Colts have crowded their cornerback contingent this offseason, re-signing both Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie. Both veterans are on one-year contracts. Tell’s rookie deal tolled from the COVID-19 opt-out; he is under contract through 2023.

NFL Contract Details: Bolts, Griffin, Broncos

With the tampering period in full swing, here are some of the latest contract details to emerge:

  • Chargers C Corey Linsley: Five years, $62.5MM. $26MM guaranteed, $13MM signing bonus. Linsley is due $26MM through 2022, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. Linsley’s 2021 base salary ($4MM) is fully guaranteed. His 2022 base salary ($9MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing; it becomes fully guaranteed if he is on the Bolts’ roster on Day 2 of the 2022 league year, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Jaguars CB Shaquill Griffin: Three years, $40MM. $23.5MM fully guaranteed, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. $12MM signing bonus, base salaries of $1MM, $11.5MM and $11.5MM. Griffin is due a $1MM roster bonus in 2023, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Lions DE Romeo Okwara: Three years, $39MM. $14MM signing bonus, $20MM fully guaranteed. Another $5MM will be guaranteed by next March, per NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter).
  • Broncos DL Shelby Harris: Three years, $27MM. $9MM signing bonus. Harris’ $1MM 2021 base salary and $5.5MM of his $7.5MM 2022 base are guaranteed, Wilson tweets.
  • Patriots DB Jalen Mills: Four years, $24MM. $2.5MM signing bonus, $3MM base salary in 2021, $4.5MM in ’22. Williams will have $3.5MM of his 2022 base salary fully guaranteed, Breer tweets.
  • Panthers OL Cameron Erving: Two years, $10MM. This contract includes base salaries of $990K and $2.01MM, with Wilson tweeting a March 2022 roster bonus of $2.5MM is guaranteed.
  • 49ers CB Jason Verrett: One year, $5.5MM. $2MM signing bonus, $2.5MM base salary, $1MM in per-game roster bonuses. Another $1MM is available via incentives, Yates tweets.