Jonathan Jones

Patriots Expected To Re-Sign CB Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones had been expected to test the open market this week, but that will no longer be the case. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that the corner is re-signing with the Patriots on a two-year contract (Twitter link).

The 29-year-old played out the final season of a three-year extension he signed with the Patriots in 2019. His production over that span, including seven interceptions and usage both in the slot and on the boundary, would have made him a candidate for a notable contract from New England or another team on the open market. Ultimately, it looks like he took a bit of a discount to stick around with the Patriots.

The former UDFA out of Auburn mostly played in the slot during his first six seasons in the NFL, but he was required to take on a larger role in 2022 following the loss of J.C. Jackson in the secondary. Jones ended up having a career season from a statistical standpoint while playing on the outside, finishing with career-highs in interceptions (four) and passes defended (11) while starting a career-high 16 games.

Pro Football Focus also gave Jones some praise for his new role, ranking him 38th among 118 qualifying cornerbacks. When serving as a slot cornerback, Jones had a pair of top-20 finishes, including a fifth-place ranking in 2020.

“He’s tough, well prepared, smart kid,” Belichick said this past season (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss). “His playing strength for his size is good, speed’s very good, instincts, quickness, good tackler. He’s a good player and really good off the field with preparation and communication.”

While the Patriots were able to bring back Jones on an affordable contract, the team wasn’t in dire need of cornerback help. The organization got some solid production from rookies Marcus Jones and Jack Jones in 2022, but with Jonathan Jones back in the fold, the team won’t be as reliant on the upcoming sophomores.

Patriots Interested In Re-Signing Jonathan Jones; Jakobi Meyers Expected To Reach Market

MARCH 12: One team that has looked into Meyers’ market believes the NC State product will command a $15MM/year deal, a source tells Mike Reiss of If that projection is accurate, then it becomes even more unlikely that Meyers returns to Foxborough, and Doug Kyed of says fellow wideout Nelson Agholor also appears to be headed elsewhere.

Per Reiss, Jones has indicated that he would like to re-sign with the Pats and that the two sides have discussed a new contract.

MARCH 7: Jonathan Jones played out his second Patriots contract in 2022. The veteran cornerback now joins Jakobi Meyers in free agency. New England appears interested in retaining Jones, while Meyers’ expected price tag may be too steep.

The Pats are interested in re-signing Jones, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald reports. Substantial talks do not appear to have taken place, but the former Super Bowl contributor does not profile as the top corner available in free agency like J.C. Jackson did a year ago. Meyers, however, may be the top option at his position. That stands to complicate a return to the Pats.

Meyers has engaged in conversations about staying in New England, but’s Dan Graziano notes the sides have not made too much progress. This thin receiver market stands to inflate Meyers’ value. Odell Beckham Jr. is the biggest name available at receiver, but the 30-year-old standout’s injury issues complicate his market. Ditto DJ Chark. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Meyers do not carry such baggage, though the former would seem a strong candidate to stay in Kansas City given his production spike when teamed with Patrick Mahomes last season.

New England extended Jones just before the 2019 season, signing him to a three-year, $21MM deal. A similar accord may be enough for the Pats to retain Jones on a third contract, but Ian Rapoport of notes Jones is likely headed to the open market (video link). He would join the likes of Jamel Dean, James Bradberry and Byron Murphy here.

Murphy and Jones each bring slot and boundary coverage experience, with the latter serving as New England’s top slot option for most of his tenure. Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the No. 5 overall corner in 2020, his most recent full season as a slot player. Jones suffered an injury midway through the 2021 season but bounced back in 2022. Jones played on the outside more in 2022, out of necessity but has earned a solid reputation in the slot over the course of his career.

Still, his age (30 in September) will provide some limitations in free agency. Although the Pats are interested in keeping Jones, Rapoport tweets a franchise tag should not be considered in the equation. With the cornerback tag being $18.3MM, Jones was never a candidate to be cuffed. Slot corners’ value has not come up near the point a tag would enter the picture.

Entering his age-27 season, Meyers is coming of back-to-back 800-plus-yard receiving campaigns. After Pats signings of Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne produced inconsistency, their UDFA success story has provided some security. Meyers’ relatively low yards-per-reception totals (12.4 is his career-high mark) could cap his value, but this year’s receiver market will still put him in position to command a lucrative accord.

2023 Top 50 NFL Free Agents

Super Bowl LVII provided the latest example of the value free agency can bring. The Chiefs revamped their receiving corps on last year’s market, while the Eagles acquired three defensive starters — including sack leader Haason Reddick. The Jaguars also used a March 2022 splurge to ignite their surprising surge to the divisional round.

Beginning with the legal tampering period, which starts at 3pm CT on Monday, and continuing with the official start to free agency (3pm Wednesday), the next several days represent a highlight on the NFL calendar. Which teams will change their 2023 outlooks for the better next week?

While the 2023 free agent class has absorbed its share of body blows and indeed lacks depth at certain spots, a few positions will bring waves of starter-level talent. Right tackle will invite some big-money decisions, and the safety and off-ball linebacker positions feature considerable depth. A few ascending talents and hidden gems appear in this class as well.

This list ranks free agents by earning potential. In terms of accomplishments, Bobby Wagner, Fletcher Cox and Lavonte David would lap most of the players included here. With each defender going into his age-33 season, however, the standouts’ ability to command big contracts is certainly not what it once was.

In terms of possible destinations, not every team is represented equally. Some teams will bring more needs and cap space into this year’s marketplace than others. With some help from Adam La Rose, here is this year’s PFR top 50 free agents list, along with potential landing spots for each player.

1. Orlando Brown Jr., T. Age in Week 1: 27

As the 49ers did two years ago with Trent Williams, the Chiefs will let Brown hit the market. This could end up benefiting the veteran tackle, who was offered a deal with an average annual value north of Williams’ tackle-record $23MM per year before last July’s franchise tag deadline. Citing insufficient guarantees, Brown turned it down. Kansas City’s offer did contain a bloated final year to bump up the AAV to $23.1MM, but will Brown – a quality left tackle but not a top-shelf option at the position – do as well this year? He will soon find out.

Brown has now made four Pro Bowls and carries positional versatility that would intrigue were he open to a return to right tackle, which by all accounts he is not. The 363-pound blocker can struggle against speed-rusher types, but he is set to be the rare accomplished left tackle in his prime to hit the market. The Chiefs sent a package including a first-round pick to the Ravens for Brown, whose bet on himself led to a $16.6MM tag and an open market. The bidding will run high, though it might not reach the places the Williams pursuit did in 2021.

The Chiefs’ exclusive negotiating rights with Brown end March 13; they have had nearly two years to complete a deal. The market will determine if the league views the sixth-year blocker as an elite-level left tackle or merely a good one. Then again, bidding wars drive up the prices for O-linemen on the market. O-line salary records have fallen four times (Williams, Corey Linsley, Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff) in free agency since 2021. This foray could give Brown the guaranteed money he seeks, and it puts the Chiefs at risk of seeing their two-year left tackle depart. The Ravens also passed on this payment back in 2021, in part because they already had Ronnie Stanley on the payroll.

The defending champions have Brown and right tackle Andrew Wylie eligible for free agency; some of their leftover funds from the Tyreek Hill trade went to Brown’s tag. Although some among the Chiefs were frustrated Brown passed on last year’s offer, the team will be hurting at a premium position if he walks. Given the importance the blindside position carries, fewer teams are in need compared to right tackle. The Titans losing Taylor Lewan and continuing to clear cap space could point to a run at Brown, though the team has a few needs up front. The Jets likely have needs at both tackle spots. Would the Bears relocate Braxton Jones to the right side? Ryan Poles was with the Chiefs when they traded for Brown, and the Bears could outmuscle anyone for cap space.

Best fits: Titans, Chiefs, Commanders

2. Mike McGlinchey, T. Age in Week 1: 28

Teams in need of right tackles will participate in one of the more interesting markets in recent memory. Above-average-to-good offensive linemen do well in free agency annually, and this year will send three experienced right tackles in their prime to the market. A five-year starter in San Francisco and former top-10 pick, McGlinchey has a good case as the best of this lot. The five-year vet’s run-blocking craft eclipses his pass-protection chops exiting Year 5, but he will walk into a competitive market. The former Notre Dame left tackle should have a lucrative deal in place during next week’s legal tampering period.

Although mutual interest existed regarding a second 49ers-McGlinchey agreement, John Lynch acknowledged the only viable path for McGlinchey to stay in San Francisco would be his market underwhelming. That seems unlikely, so right tackle-seeking teams – and there are a handful – will jockey for the sixth-year veteran. McGlinchey turned 28 in January, making this his obvious window to cash in. He rated fifth in ESPN’s run block win rate stat last season, bouncing back from the quadriceps injury that ended his 2021 season.

There is no shortage of Kyle Shanahan– or Sean McVay-influenced schemes around the league. The Bears employ Luke Getsy as their play-caller; Getsy worked for Shanahan/McVay tree branch Matt LaFleur, and the Bears’ cap space dwarfs every other team’s. After fielding a shaky O-line (on a team full of substandard position groups), Chicago needs a better idea of Justin Fields’ trajectory. Outbidding the field for the top right tackle available is a good start. The Patriots want a right tackle – on a line without a big contract presently – and the Raiders might have a say here as well. In need at multiple O-line spots, Las Vegas will have cash as well if it passes on a big QB investment.

Best fits: Bears, Patriots, Raiders

3. Jawann Taylor, T. Age in Week 1: 26

As expected, the Jaguars took Evan Engram off the market via the franchise tag. The tight end tag being $7MM cheaper than the $18.2MM offensive lineman tag always pointed Taylor toward free agency, and after never missing a start in four Duval County seasons, Taylor will be tough for the Jags to retain. They already drafted Walker Little in the 2021 second round, and no team that is currently paying a left tackle top-10 money (Cam Robinson is seventh) has a top-10 right tackle contract on the books. Taylor is expected to land at least a top-10 right tackle deal, with a $17MM-AAV figure being floated. That would place the former Florida Gator in the top five at the position, depending on how McGlinchey fares next week.

Taylor resembles the genre of player that usually populates the top of a position’s free agency market: a dependable performer who checks in below the top tier at his job. Taylor enjoyed his strongest year in his platform campaign. The former second-round pick dropped his hold count from 11 in 2021 to two in 2022. While PFF charged Taylor with five sacks allowed, Football Outsiders measured his blown-block rate at a career-low 1.3%. Offering a disparate skillset compared to McGlinchey, Taylor has fared better as a pass protector than in the run game. PFF slotted him as a top-10 pass protector among right tackles but viewed him as a dismal run-blocker.

The Jags have presumably made Taylor an offer, but other teams will probably top it. The Dolphins gave Terron Armstead a five-year, $75MM deal in 2022 but have needed a right tackle ever since Ja’Wuan James’ 2019 exit. They were forced to start in-season pickup Brandon Shell for much of the year and have cleared more than $45MM in cap space over the past two days. The team just picked up Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option, and the league’s lone southpaw starting QB needs better blindside protection after a season in which he suffered at least two concussions. Overspending on O-linemen is not the Patriots’ M.O., but they have a need at right tackle and do not have big dollars devoted to quarterback or any position up front. New England is on the hunt for a right tackle upgrade, and the team’s 2021 free agency showed it would spend when it deemed expenditures necessary.

Best fits: Dolphins, Patriots, Jaguars

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB. Age in Week 1: 31

The quarterback market cleared up this week, seeing Geno Smith and Daniel Jones extended and Derek Carr’s lengthy street free agency stretch end with $70MM in practical guarantees. Garoppolo’s injury history will affect his value, but teams kind of make it a priority to staff this position. The former Super Bowl starter is in his prime and on the market for the first time. How high this market goes will depend on what the Raiders want and what Aaron Rodgers decides.

The 49ers’ 12-game win streak that included Brock Purdy’s stunning displays began with Garoppolo at the controls. Guiding San Francisco to four straight wins, Garoppolo was at or close to his best when he suffered a broken foot in Week 13. He sported a 7-0 TD-INT ratio during that win streak and closed the season 16th in QBR. He would have walked into a better market had the injury not occurred; the setback came after a string of health issues. He tore an ACL in 2018, missed 10 games in 2020 after an ankle sprain and was significantly limited by the end of the 2021 slate due to a three-injury season. Garoppolo’s March 2022 shoulder surgery hijacked his trade market.

Ideally for Garoppolo, Rodgers returns to Green Bay or retires. While that is looking unlikelier by the day, it would put the Jets in a desperate position following Carr’s decision. The Raiders represent the other wild card. Garoppolo would slide into Josh McDaniels’ system seamlessly, given the parties’ three-plus years together in New England. The Raiders have operated a bit more stealthily compared to the Jets; they have been connected to Rodgers, Garoppolo and rolling with a rookie. Plan C here would be a tough sell given the presences of 30-year-old skill-position players Davante Adams and Darren Waller, but Las Vegas’ plans cloud Garoppolo’s market. If the Raiders pass and Rodgers chooses the Jets, Garoppolo’s earning power could drop.

McDaniels not fancying a Garoppolo reunion opens the door for the Texans, who hired ex-49ers pass-game coordinator Bobby Slowik as OC, and others. Houston’s situation may not appeal to Garoppolo, but Slowik and Nick Caserio being in Houston make this connection too clear to ignore. The Buccaneers and Commanders are in win-now positions but are giving indications they do not want to spend much at QB. The Commanders were deep in talks for the then-49ers QB last year, however. Garoppolo will test those squads, along with the Falcons, who are entering Year 3 of the Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime. The Panthers’ acquisition of the No. 1 pick likely takes them out of the running, and Carolina not being in the mix could also affect how high the Garoppolo price goes.

Bottom line, there should be enough teams interested in staffing their 2023 QB1 spots that the best free agent option should do OK no matter what happens with Rodgers.

Best fits: Raiders, Texans, Commanders

5. Jamel Dean, CB. Age in Week 1: 26

The Buccaneers retained Carlton Davis last year, but their dire cap situation should force a Dean departure. Dean’s age/performance combination should make him this year’s top cornerback available. With corner a position of need for many teams, the former third-round pick stands to do very well. Dean has only been a full-time starter in one season, however, seeing his defensive snap share jump from 67% in 2021 to 90% last season.

Excelling in press coverage, Dean played a major role for the 2020 Super Bowl champion Bucs iteration and overtook fellow free agent Sean Murphy-Bunting last year. Dean did perform better in 2021 compared to 2022, allowing no touchdowns and limiting QBs to a collective 50.0 passer rating; those numbers shot up to four and 86.0 last season. Still, PFF rated Dean as last year’s 10th-best corner. J.C. Jackson did not break into the top five among corners upon hitting the market last year; Dean should not be expected to do so, either. But many teams will be interested.

The Patriots have paid up for a corner previously, in Stephon Gilmore (2017), but Jonathan Jones – forced to primarily play a boundary role in 2022 – wants to re-sign and will be far cheaper than Dean. The Falcons need help opposite AJ Terrell and trail only the Bears in cap space. Although a Terrell payment is coming, it can be tabled to 2024 due to the fifth-year option. The Dolphins are clearing cap space and now have a corner need, with Byron Jones no longer with the team after his missed season.

Best fits: Dolphins, Falcons, Patriots

6. Jessie Bates, S. Age in Week 1: 26

Bates stands to be one of this free agency crop’s safest bets, combining extensive experience – the final two years as a pillar for a championship threat – with a host of prime years remaining. Beginning his career at 21, the Wake Forest product has started 79 games and anchored the Bengals’ secondary for most of his tenure. The Bengals did not tag Bates for a second time, passing on a $15.5MM price. With the team planning to let Bates test the market, it looks like the sixth-year defender will leave Cincinnati.

The Bengals and Bates went through two offseasons of negotiations, ending in the 2022 tag. The Bengals have some big payments to make at higher-profile positions. Safety does not qualify as such, but Bates has been a cornerstone in Lou Anarumo’s defense and will be handsomely rewarded. Bates finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall safety in 2020 and, after a shakier 2021 in which he admitted his contract situation affected his play, Bates came through with impact plays in the postseason. He graded as a top-25 safety, via PFF, in 2022.

Safety is one of this year’s deeper positions in free agency. Of the top 10 safety contracts, however, only one went to a free agent (Marcus Williams in 2022). Bates should be expected to join the Ravens defender, who signed for $14MM per year. It will be interesting if he can climb into the top five at the position; Justin Simmons’ $15.25MM-AAV accord sits fifth. Bates should be expected to approach or eclipse that, though moving to the Derwin JamesMinkah Fitzpatrick tier will be more difficult. Still, after the Bengals offered Bates less than $17MM guaranteed last summer, he should depart for more guaranteed money.

The Browns are interested in Bates, who will cost more than John Johnson cost Cleveland two years ago (three years, $33.75MM). Clear of the record-setting Matt Ryan dead-money hit, the Falcons have cash to spend and a Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime entering Year 3. The Falcons need to make progress, and they do not have much in the way of talent or costs at safety. The team has not featured much here since the Keanu NealRicardo Allen tandem splintered. Bates would be a way to remedy that.

Team fits: Falcons, Browns, Raiders

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Jonathan Jones Wants To Stay With Patriots

One of the last Patriots members tied to their Super Bowl teams, Jonathan Jones is less than a week away from hitting free agency for the first time. The Pats would like to retain their longest-tenured cornerback, and he wants to stay in New England as well.

Jones anticipates talks ramping up early next week, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald notes. The Pats have until 3pm CT Monday to continue exclusive negotiations with the eighth-year veteran, who can begin talking to other teams once the legal tampering period begins. But it sounds like the Patriots would not be eliminated from the conversation once the NFL’s soft free agency starts.

That’s the desire, to be back here. It’s what I know; it’s what I love; It’s New England,” Jones said, via Guregian. “It’s hard to say no to New England. Being here, is where I’ve spent a lot of my adult life. It’s been a part of my journey and I love it. [The Patriots] have been a big part of my life.

Jones, 29, landed in New England as a UDFA in 2016 and quickly became a critical part of Bill Belichick‘s secondary. The Pats used Jones as their primary slot corner beginning in 2017, lining him up in a veteran-laden group that included the likes of Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty. Those higher-profile players have all departed, joining Logan Ryan in leaving New England in recent offseasons. But the Pats made Jones a priority previously, extending him on a three-year, $21MM deal before the 2019 season. Jones played out that contract.

The Pats used Jones more on the outside last season, after he returned from a shoulder injury that ended his 2021 season early. And he showed potential as a boundary player. The team still has Jalen Mills under contract and now employs two other Joneses — Marcus and Jack — at corner on rookie deals. It is unclear if teams will view Jonathan Jones as a pure slot corner or be seen as a versatile presence. Slot corners continue to struggle on the market, at least compared to top boundary players, so Jones seeing more time on the outside last season likely benefited him.

Jones joins Jamel Dean, Byron Murphy, Rock Ya-Sin and James Bradberry as some of the top corners available. Age will also be a factor in Jones’ free agency; both he and Bradberry will play out their age-30 seasons in 2023. That should help make Jones fairly affordable for the Patriots, who have more than $31MM in cap space.

Patriots Notes: Klemm, Jones, McCourty

After weeks of speculation with respect to his future, clarity has arrived in the case of Adrian Klemm. The Oregon associate head coach will not be staying in Eugene as previously expected, and will instead join the Patriots’ staff, reports ESPN’s Pete Thamel (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Nick Caley To Join Rams’ Staff As TEs Coach]

The former Patriots o-lineman had been linked to a New England return earlier in the offseason, one in which Bill O’Brien has been hired as their offensive coordinator. That move came as little surprise, given his ties to head coach Bill Belichick and his experience as a play-caller relative to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, the much-maligned tandem which took on a large role in crafting the Patriots’ underwhelming offense in 2022.

Not surprisingly, Thamel notes that Klemm is set to receive a raise upon his return to an NFL sideline. Prior to his stint in Oregon – where the Ducks allowed the fewest sacks in the country this season – Klemm served as the Steelers’ o-line coach. His arrival will likely see Patricia take on a lesser role within that position group, or a different title altogether if he is retained for 2023.

Here are some other Patriots notes:

  • Cornerback Jonathan Jones had a strong season in 2022, registering four interceptions and 11 pass breakups. That production came as he transitioned from playing primarily in the slot to on the perimeter, as the team dealt with plenty of roster turnover at the position. It helped the pending free agent’s value, but Jones is hoping to parlay his performance into a new deal in New England. ” I would hope so,” the 29-year-old said, via NBC Sports’ Phil Perry, on the subject of a new contract with the Patriots. “That’s where I’ve spent my career. It’s what I know. It’s what I love. I mean, New England is home for me in that aspect. We’ll see. We’ll see how free agency turns out… and we’ll take it from there.”
  • Another key defender for New England, safety Devin McCourtyhad a consistent campaign in line with what he has become known for. The 35-year-old started every game in 2022, notching four interceptions and logging over 1,000 defensive snaps for the seventh time in his career. Despite being on the field so long, the former first-rounder required offseason shoulder surgery, notes Thamel’s colleague Mike Reiss. McCourty has four void years remaining on his current deal, leaving his playing future in doubt.

CB Rumors: Hill, Sutton, Pats, Colts, Lions

After seeing Troy Hill join the Browns in free agency last year, the Rams entered the 2022 league year eyeing Cleveland’s cornerback decisions. The Rams began discussing the idea of reacquiring Hill in early March, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes, and the team monitored the Browns’ draft to determine if it was a realistic move (subscription required). If the Browns drafted a cornerback on either Day 1 or Day 2, Rodrigue adds the Rams planned to make a move for Hill. Martin Emerson‘s third-round Cleveland arrival led to L.A. brass bringing back the veteran slot cornerback. The Rams, who had lost Darious Williams in free agency, sent a 2023 fifth-rounder to the Browns for Hill. Although Hill spent time in Youngstown, Ohio, growing up, the 30-year-old defender wants to stay with the Rams beyond his current contract — a two-year, $9MM deal that expires after the 2022 season.

Here is the latest from the cornerback scene across the league:

  • Cameron Sutton is going into the final year of his second Steelers contract and, with Joe Haden out of the picture, will go into the season as the team’s top cornerback. Sutton expects to go into the season without a new deal, but the now-Omar Khan-led Steelers have extended three contract-year players — Minkah Fitzpatrick, Chris Boswell, Diontae Johnson — in recent weeks. Sutton has confirmed he and the team have not discussed an extension, via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. The sixth-year corner also is expected to spend most of his time in the slot this season, lining up on the outside in base sets and moving inside — with Levi Wallace and Ahkello Witherspoon outside — in sub-packages.
  • The Patriots have primarily used Jonathan Jones as a slot cornerback. His 2019 extension came as a result of slot play, and Pro Football Focus graded him as a top-tier cover man in 2020. But New England has been using Jones on the outside in recent days at camp, Doug Kyed of PFF notes, with third-round rookie Marcus Jones working in the slot. The Pats have been searching for an outside corner alongside Jalen Mills, and the recently unretired Malcolm Butler has yet to seize that gig. Marcus Jones is also viewed as the likely Pats punt returner, per Kyed.
  • Will Harris has worked as a safety during his first three seasons, but the fourth-year Lions defender is now battling former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah for an outside cornerback spot, Eric Woodyard of notes. Harris started all 17 games for the Lions last season, but in addition to re-signing Tracy Walker, Detroit added ex-Baltimore safety DeShon Elliott. Okudah losing this competition would be a massive disappointment, given his draft slot, but’s Jeremy Fowler adds the Ohio State product is not being restricted by his 2021 Achilles rupture and is firmly in the Lions’ plans. Detroit’s first “unofficial” depth chart has Harris ahead of Okudah, alongside corners Amani Oruwariye and slot A.J. Parker.
  • The Colts may be ready to declare a winner in the battle to determine their third primary cornerback. Veteran addition Brandon Facyson is likely to play alongside Kenny Moore and Stephon Gilmore, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star notes. Facyson, a Gus Bradley-system vet who has been with the new Colts DC with the Chargers and Raiders, appears to be beating out 2020 sixth-round pick Isaiah Rodgers. Largely a backup before starting nine Raiders games last year, Facyson signed a one-year, $3.84MM deal this offseason.
  • Darqueze Dennard spent 2021 with four teams — the Cardinals, Colts, Giants and 49ers — and played in just two games. But the 49ers, with K’Waun Williams now a Bronco, have Dennard in pole position to be their slot corner, Matt Barrows of The Athletic notes. A former first-round pick, Dennard spent years as the Bengals’ primary slot. The 31-year-old defender is attempting to fend off rookies Samuel Womack and Qwuantrezz Knight.

Patriots’ Jonathan Jones, Jabrill Peppers Return To Practice

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.

Patriots Place Five Players On PUP

The Patriots placed a long list of players on the physically unable to perform list today. Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Twitter, New England placed center David Andrews, cornerback Jonathan Jones, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, safety Jabrill Peppers, and running back James White on PUP. The players are able to return to practice at any time, but they’ll be watching from the sideline until they’re officially activated.

Jones is still rehabbing a shoulder injury that limited him to only six games in 2021, while Andrews is recovering from his own shoulder surgery. White was limited to only three games last season thanks to a hip issue, and it sounds like the injury is lingering into this year’s training camp. Peppers and McMillan are both returning from ACL injuries.

White is one of the most veteran players on the Patriots roster, and in an ideal world, the running back would serve as a pass-catching safety blanket for Mac Jones. Between the 2016 and 2019 campaign, White averaged 68.8 catches and 950 yards from scrimmage per season. Now 30, this injury could spell the beginning of the end for White, and with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson requiring carries (plus rookie fourth-round pick Pierre Strong Jr.), it’s hard to really see a role for White even if he’s healthy.

Andrews is also one of the longest-tenured Patriots players, having appeared in 89 games across seven seasons with the organization (including a 2019 campaign that he missed due to a pulmonary embolism). Despite the 2021 season being Andrews’ age-30 season, he still proved he was one of the best centers in the NFL, with Pro Football Focus ranking him fifth among 39 eligible centers.

McMillan joined the Patriots last offseason, but he tore his ACL in August and missed the entire season. Peppers, a former first-round pick, spent the past three seasons with the Giants. He collected 29 tackles and one sack in six games before suffering a torn ACL in October. Jones has spent his entire six-year career in New England, starting 27 games (including 21 starts between 2018 and 2020). He collected 20 tackles and three passes defended in six games last season.

Patriots Rumors: Injury Updates, Zappe, Perkins

The Patriots released some practice photos recently and, according to Zack Cox of NESN, some of the pictures seem to indicate the much anticipated returns of several previously-injured Patriots. These players included running back James White, cornerback Jonathan Jones, tight end Dalton Keene, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, and linebacker Anfernee Jennings.

White suffered a hip injury last year that required surgery serious enough to end his season and leave him bedridden for months. He hasn’t been fully cleared to return, but seeing him active on the field bodes well for his recovery.

Jones had surgery to repair his shoulder in October and missed the remainder of the season in recovery. McMillan tore his ACL before the season started, but impressed in his limited time before the injury. Keene and Jennings were both placed on injured reserve in August and missed the entire season as a result.

Here are a few other rumors from New England:

  • New England turned some heads on Day 3 of the Draft when they selected quarterback Bailey Zappe in the fourth round. At a point in the Draft where some teams normally address their positional needs, the Patriots selected a quarterback in the first draft after rookie passer Mac Jones led them to the playoffs. For an explanation, ESPN’s Mike Reiss pointed to a discussion with analysts Todd McShay and Louis Riddick, in which they cover “how it can be good business to draft and develop quarterbacks.” He also quotes former NFL general manger Randy Mueller who applauded the pick, saying that he would rather draft for value over need at that point in the Draft.
  • After not appearing in any regular season games last season, second-year Patriots outside linebacker Ronnie Perkins is ready to take the next step, according to Reiss. Perkins was buried on the depth chart behind Kyle Van Noy, now with the Chargers, and Jamie Collins, now a free agent. The departure of Van Noy and Collins leaves a hole opposite Pro Bowl pass rusher Matt Judon and Reiss reports that New England coaches are confident Perkins is getting ready to step up.

Patriots’ Jonathan Jones Done For Year

Jonathan Jones‘ season is over. After being placed on IR last week, the Patriots cornerback is now set for season-ending shoulder surgery (Twitter link via’s Ian Rapoport). 

Initially, the Patriots hoped to have him back as soon as Week 10. Now, Jones’ 2021 will end with 20 stops and one interception in six games.

The sixth-year pro worked his way up from UDFA to regular inside defender with the Pats, grading out as the No. 5 cornerback in the league last year, per Pro Football Focus. For what it’s worth, they weren’t quite as fond of his 2021 performance to date, viewing his work as barely top-100 worthy.

Jones, whose $7MM-per-year Pats extension runs through 2022, will have some time to get healthy in advance of his walk year. He’s set to collect a $5.4MM base salary next year while carrying a cap hit of $8.2MM.

In the meantime, the Patriots will move forward with J.C. Jackson, Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams, and Myles Bryant as their CBs. They could circle back to some of their recently-auditioned cover men like Brian Poole, D.J. Hayden, and De’Vante Bausby, but they’d ideally like to have Shawn Wade return to the lineup. Wade missed Sunday’s win over the Jets with a concussion but could be ready in time for the Chargers on Halloween.