Patriots: Why Jalen Mills was a low-key perfect Bill Belichick signing
The New England Patriots have spent 24 straight hours shocking the NFL.
Of course the critics are out there, though, saying that these moves don’t drastically improve a 7-9 team, but perhaps they’re not realizing every signing and trade that’s been made addresses an area of weakness while the Pats will be getting a number of opt-out candidates back in 2021.
While we don’t need to give any attention to the naysayers, it’s important to clear up all the Jalen Mills slander.
The Patriots signed the former Eagles defensive back to a four-year, $24 million contract, and it’s mostly been disregarded or criticized. But it’s actually a low-key classic Bill Belichick move.
Jalen Mills to the Patriots makes perfect sense.
Though the former seventh-round pick was brought to Philadelphia to be a cornerback, but instead became a bit of a Swiss Army knife in Jim Schwartz’s defense, with his best campaign coming in 2017 — the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning season.
That year, he picked off three passes, returned one for a touchdown, recorded 64 tackles and 14 passes defended. He started all three games in the postseason and defended five passes while registering 13 tackles.
But his claim to fame is his versatility, which is exactly why Belichick went out and signed him.
And with guys like Devin McCourty, Stephon Gilmore and Adrian Phillips hitting free agency next offseason, someone will need to fill a multi-positional void.
Here’s some telling info from the Boston Globe:
"“Bill Belichick has always prized versatility, and players don’t get more versatile than Mills. According to ESPN, Mills is the only player in the NFL to play 50-plus snaps at seven different ‘pre-snap’ positions in 2020: left and right outside linebacker, left and right wide cornerback, left and right slot corner, and free safety. It remains to be seen now that versatility will manifest itself in New England, but given Belichick’s track record, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him do the same in New England, provided he can pick up the Patriots’ defensive scheme.”"
Injuries limited Mills in 2018 and 2019, and 2020 was a disaster for the Eagles altogether, so it’s hard to truly evaluate the 26-year-old.
But he’s a team player, an influential locker room voice, and a versatile veteran. Does that not fit the Patriot mold?
And if you’re bugging out about his contract, that should clear things up. Yes, it could max out at $6 million per year through 2024, but the Pats are only locked in for two years and $12.5 million with small cap hits in 2021 and 2022.
Perhaps Belichick sees Mills potentially playing a Devin McCourty-esque role. Remember, he started off his career as a cornerback before switching to safety (just like Mills) and we’ve seen him take snaps inside the box at linebacker as well as blitz on countless occasions.
It’s never a bad thing to have multiple players that can be moved all over the field, and if we know anything about Belichick, it’s that he’ll put a guy like Mills in a position to succeed most of the time because that’s how he maximizes the output from his guys.