Joejuan Williams

Patriots CB Joejuan Williams Suffers Season-Ending Shoulder Injury

The cornerback room has been one receiving plenty of attention this offseason in New England, but the unit has taken a hit before the regular season. Joejuan Williams has suffered a shoulder injury which will keep him sidelined for the entire campaign (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport). 

The 24-year-old has made 36 regular season appearances across his three years in New England, but only one start. It came this past season, as his defensive playing time has steadily increased from one year to the next. He also started the team’s playoff loss to the Bills, but has yet to find his footing with respect to a full-time role.

A second-round pick in 2019 (whom the Patriots traded up for), Williams’ struggles in pass coverage and the fact that he has yet to record an interception left his roster spot in question last month. Moving on from the six-foot-three, 212-pounder during roster cuts would, of course, represent another major disappointment for that year’s draft class; the Patriots have already traded away their top selection, N’Keal Harry, for a seventh-round pick.

Given the injury, doing just that is now a more logical move for the team. Even if he is placed on IR, Williams will head to free agency next offseason with an underwhelming track record and a full campaign spent on the sidelines. In any case, New England will move forward with the likes of Jonathan Jones, Jalen MillsMalcolm ButlerTerrance Mitchell and rookies Marcus Jones and Jack Jones at the CB position.

The Patriots will have further moves to make on the backend to finalize their perimeter defenders, but the roster is now closer to coming into focus. Williams’ rehab, meanwhile, will go a long way in determining his NFL future.

CB Joejuan Williams Unlikely To Make Patriots’ Roster?

Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams is presently a longshot to earn a place on New England’s 53-man roster, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. Given the uncertainty surrounding the club’s cornerback room, failing to make the cut would be rather damning for Williams.

In his weekly piece touching on 10 topics concerning the Patriots — in which he cites a subscription-only article he published after mandatory minicamp in June — Reiss examines the shortcomings of the Pats’ 2019 draft class. That group sustained another blow earlier this week when the team traded its first pick in that year’s draft, wide receiver N’Keal Harry, to the Bears in exchange for a 2024 seventh-rounder. Williams, the No. 45 overall pick in 2019, could be next up on the chopping block.

New England moved up 13 spots to nab Williams, doing so with the belief that his size (6-3, 212) would allow him to match up well with larger receivers and tight ends. That has not, unfortunately, proven to be the case.

After appearing in just 80 defensive snaps in his rookie season, Williams took a step forward in terms of playing time in each of the next two years, but that did not come with a corresponding improvement in play. In 2021, the Vanderbilt product saw action in 35% of the Patriots’ defensive snaps in the regular season, but he was also deactivated for five games — including three of the final four contests of the regular season — and struggled mightily in his two starts.

One of those starts came in the team’s wildcard round loss to the Bills, and Williams was inserted into the lineup for that game only because Jalen Mills had landed on the COVID-19 list. In New England’s 47-17 drubbing at the hands of its division rival, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen completed four of the five passes he threw in Williams’ direction, racking up 72 yards and a TD. That performance is emblematic of Williams’ struggles as a whole throughout his pro career, as he has allowed opposing passers to generate a 113.4 QB rating and has yet to record an interception (h/t Bernd Buchmasser of PatsPulpit.com).

Plus, after carving out a role as a core special-teamer in 2020, Williams also saw a lessened workload on the Pats’ third unit, appearing in just 25% of the club’s ST snaps in 2021 after posting a 47% number the year before. All told, he certainly looks like a player on the wrong side of the roster bubble.

As noted above, however, the Patriots’ cornerback contingent is not exactly a top-flight crew, with Mills, Malcolm Butler, Terrance Mitchell, and fourth-round rookie Jack Jones penciled in as the top boundary corners. Jones may well find himself in the starting lineup sooner rather than later, and a strong training camp could allow Williams to force his way back into the picture in Foxborough. Even if that does not happen, his draft pedigree should allow him to find another opportunity on a team that believes his potential can be unlocked with a change of scenery.

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.

AFC East Rumors: Williams, Jets, Dolphins

The Patriots appear to be putting their cornerback depth to good use. One of the Pats’ corners, Joejuan Williams, is now attending meetings exclusively as a safety, Michael Giardi of NFL.com tweets. New England’s 2019 second-round pick, Williams only played 80 defensive snaps as a rookie. But the Vanderbilt product was stuck behind the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones. Those three are back in 2020, but the Pats’ safety group looks considerably different.

The team’s longtime Devin McCourtyPatrick ChungDuron Harmon trio is down to just McCourty, though the Pats did sign former Charger Adrian Phillips and drafted Kyle Dugger in Round 2. Dugger, however, played at a Division II school and has not had much time this offseason for on-field work. At 6-foot-3, 212 pounds, Williams has the size to transition to safety. The Pats frequently used three safeties in coverage over the past several years.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Le’Veon Bell has not enjoyed a quality training camp, with Brian Costello of the New York Post rating the Jets‘ starting running back as the team’s third-most impressive back in camp — behind Frank Gore and rookie fourth-rounder La’Mical Perine. Bell enjoyed his worst season in 2019, but the Jets featured a bottom-tier offensive line. They have since made several upgrade attempts. The Jets have Bell under contract for three more seasons, but just one of them features guaranteed money. Bell, 28, is set to count $15.5MM against the Jets’ cap this season.
  • More than a week after bringing Donte Moncrief in for a workout, the Jets again summoned the wideout to their facility. Moncrief visited the Jets on Friday. This comes after the former third-round pick and veteran auxiliary wide receiver met with the 49ers. San Francisco went in a different direction, however. The 6-4 target amassed 668 receiving yards with the 2018 Jaguars but did not make an impact with the Steelers or Panthers last season.
  • The Jets’ wideout interest stems partially from being without Denzel Mims. The second-round rookie has missed all of the team’s work in pads, with The Athletic’s Connor Hughes noting Mims is not yet doing individual drills (subscription required). Mims suffered the injury during the team’s ramp-up period earlier this month. With 2020 already presenting unfavorable circumstances for rookies, Mims may well face an uphill battle to be an early-season contributor.
  • Dolphins first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene is competing with Jakeem Grant and recent addition Chester Rogers for return jobs, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. A cornerback out of Auburn, Igbinoghene notched two kick-return touchdowns in college. He did not return any punts at Auburn, however, so this would seemingly leave the punt-return competition to the two veterans. The elusive Grant has four NFL return TDs, including two on punt returns.
  • Fellow Dolphins rookie Solomon Kindley still has a chance to be one of the team’s starting guards, with Jackson noting that the fourth-round rookie may be a bit ahead of second-round O-lineman Robert Hunt. The Dolphins still view Hunt as a player who could contribute at both guard and tackle, while Kindley — the No. 111 overall pick out of Georgia — is showing well at right guard. The Dolphins signed Ereck Flowers to play left guard this offseason, and guard-tackle hybrid Jesse Davis may be set to again open as the team’s right tackle.

Patriots’ Joejuan Williams Arrested

Patriots cornerback Joejuan Williams was arrested for drug possession on Friday night, according to CBS4 in Boston. Per Michael Giardi of the NFL Network (citing the Tennessean), police found acetaminophen hydrocodone prescription pills, valacyclovir hydrocodone pills, a large amount of marijuana, hand-rolled marijuana cigarettes, and illegal paraphernalia inside Williams’ SUV (Twitter link).

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Williams, who just turned 22 in December, was selected out of Vanderbilt in the second round of last year’s draft. The Patriots and other clubs were tantalized by his combination of size (he stands at 6’4″) and tough playing style in the lead-up to April. In his first pro season, he was used sparingly, appearing in just nine games with four tackles in total, with more snaps on special teams than on defense.

And, given the variety and nature of the drugs found in Williams’ possession, he will almost certainly face a suspension from the league. When the new collective bargaining agreement is finalized, it is expected to be more lenient on marijuana use, and that could be a factor when the NFL doles out punishment. But if Williams did not have a prescription for the pills, that could be a bigger problem for him.

Williams’ arrest comes shortly after word of Julian Edelman‘s run-in with the law. The wide receiver was arrested earlier this month after allegedly jumping on the hood of someone else’s Mercedes. Both players could be subject to league discipline once their legal matters are wrapped up.

Patriots Sign Three Draft Picks

The Patriots have signed three members of their 2019 draft class: second-round cornerback Joejuan Williams (Twitter link via Doug Kyed of NESN), third-round offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle), and fifth-round defensive tackle Byron Cowart (Twitter link via Nick Underhill of The Athletic). has signed his rookie contract with the Patriots, according to Doug Kyed of NESN (Twitter link).

Williams is an exceptionally tall at 6’4″, and there’s at least some question as to how he’ll be deployed in New England. Over the past decade, only one cornerback — Brandon Browner — has started an NFL game at a height of 6’4″ or taller. Browner, of course, spent the 2014 campaign with the Patriots, leading to speculation that Williams could be used in a similar fashion.

Lance Zierlien of NFL.com praised Williams’ size in a pre-draft profile, but noted the Vanderbilt product’s lack of speed and ball skills. For now, Williams is behind Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, and J.C. Jackson on the Patriots’ secondary depth chart.

Cajuste isn’t likely to see much action during his rookie campaign given that the Patriots are set at tackle with Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon, but the West Virginia product couldn’t have asked for a better developmental destination than New England, where he’ll get to work under revered offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

Rams Trade No. 45 Choice To Patriots

The Patriots are moving up into the middle portion of the second round, with their most recent Super Bowl opponent providing the avenue to do so.

The Rams agreed to deal the No. 45 pick to the Pats. In exchange, the defending NFC champions will receive the Pats’ No. 56 pick and a third-rounder (No. 101). With the pick, New England will choose Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams.

This marks the Rams’ second trade-down maneuver of this draft. They moved out of their first-round window (No. 31 overall) Thursday night.

New England has continued to enjoy success despite letting cornerbacks walk in free agency. Following the exits of Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler, the Pats cobbled together another strong secondary to shut down the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Williams joins a group featuring Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson and 2018 second-rounder Duke Dawson.