1. Jonathan Jones
The Patriots cutting Jonathan Jones, who’s been their top slot corner for the past four seasons and is the rare defensive back to receive a second contract from the franchise, would come as a pretty big surprise.
However, if Belichick has to chose between releasing the talented cornerback and freeing up cap space that could be used to get a big-time signing over the finish line, don’t be surprised if Jones gets the axe this offseason.
Jones signed a three-year, $21 million extension with New England back in 2019, so he’s entering the final year of his deal. He’ll come with an $8.2 million cap hit for 2022 and just a $2.018 million dead cap charge. When you crunch the numbers, cutting Jones would save $6.2 million in cap space. And he’s coming off season-ending shoulder surgery.
You just know Belichick has Jones’ deal circled as a potential contingency plan if his spending budget isn’t up to snuff.
Losing Jones would be a tough blow to the Patriots’ defense, but that could give Belichick more incentive to extend or franchise tag JC Jackson. In turn, Belichick could bank on Myles Bryant or Shaun Wade to develop as the primary slot corner or even take to the draft to find Jones’ long-term replacement.
Bottom line? All would not be lost if Jones gets cut. If everything falls into place, it could end up paying huge dividends to the bigger picture.