Patriots: 3 players who’ll see their roles reduced in 2021
By Jerry Trotta
2. Jonathan Jones
Unfortunately for Jonathan Jones, the Patriots are loaded at cornerback.
The Patriots could have easily validated not bolstering their secondary in free agency. However, you can’t exactly blame them for doing so given how much cap space they had at their disposal.
While they didn’t necessarily replenish the secondary, the signing of Jalen Mills to a four-year, $24 million contract, which included $9 million guaranteed, was a tad surprising. Though the former Eagle fits right into Bill Belichick’s mold as far as versatility is concerned, we seriously hope his inclusion doesn’t take playing time away from cornerback Jonathan Jones.
However, it’s difficult to picture a scenario in which that doesn’t happen. It admittedly helps Jones that Patrick Chung retired, as Mills will likely play more snaps at safety than initially perceived, but his limitations in coverage — he’s notorious for jumping routes — lead us to believe that most of his snaps will come at cornerback.
If Stephon Gilmore isn’t traded, the Patriots will be absolutely loaded at cornerback. Assuming he signs an extension, they’ll have Gilmore, JC Jackson, Mills, Jones and Joejuan Williams.
Fresh off a year in which he logged a healthy 72% snap share on defense, Jones could spend more time on the bench than his production calls for. For context, the former undrafted talent earned a remarkable 80.8 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus last season.
Jones has been one of the most overlooked members of the Patriots’ defense over the last four seasons and it would be absolutely criminal for him to lose snaps in 2021, regardless of how great of a fit Mills appears to be in Belichick’s system.