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 Mills, Malcolm Butler, Terrance 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.