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Patriots corner Cyrus Jones goes from jersey number with ‘a lot of history’ to one of mystery

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A new year brings a new number for 2016 second-round pick Cyrus Jones.

On May 6, 2016, Robert and Jonathan Kraft headed onto the Gillette Stadium turf to introduce top draft pick Cyrus Jones. But the jersey number chosen by the New England Patriots’ second-rounder needed no introduction.

“There’s definitely a lot of history,” Jones said of taking on No. 24. “Guys like Ty Law, Darrelle Revis – great defensive backs and great players. Two of the greatest players to step foot in the National Football League.”

Jones understood the number had “good karma,” as the elder Kraft stated. He understood the legacy behind it in Foxborough. The receiver-turned-cornerback by way of Alabama, who wore No. 8 and No. 5 during his time with the Crimson Tide, said he wanted to continue it by making his own.

Jones will now hope to do so with digits less sought-after.

A year into his Patriots tenure, Jones finds himself with No. 41, after allowing ex-South Carolina and Buffalo Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore to take on the responsibilities of No. 24 earlier this week.

“He was genuine enough to do it so I was happy for it,” Gilmore said of Jones during his own introductory press conference on Thursday.

Acquiring a jersey number has had a price before. No. 24 is no exception. Most memorably, in the summer of 2013, safety Adrian Wilson bought nickelback and new dad Kyle Arrington a year’s supply of Pampers diapers in exchange. This time around, such a transaction was not necessary.

Having grown up admiring corners around the league like Sheldon Brown, Johnathan Joseph and Champ Bailey, Gilmore simply asked his fellow SEC product.

“We just, we talked about it,” said Gilmore, who wore No. 1 in high school and No. 5 in college before wearing No. 24 in Buffalo. “I already knew [Jones] from previous years. We just made a decision that we would make it happen.”

It is a fresh start for Jones as much as it is for Gilmore. While the latter signed a five-year, $65 million contract in March after earning his first Pro Bowl selection, the former finished his rookie season with seven tackles at corner and five fumbles as a returner.

Jones started one of his 10 appearances and was inactive for all three playoff games while occupying No. 24 for the Patriots.

The expectations are lower with No. 41. It’s more obscure. It’s more of a journeyman, back-of-the-roster number. It isn’t chosen as often as it’s assigned. There’s something to like about that when it comes to a promising player with much left to prove.

Current Patriots assistant special teams coach Ray Ventrone donned No. 41 during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Then, seventh-round corner Malcolm Williams had it from 2011 through 2012. In 2013, undrafted defensive back Justin Green briefly wore it before being traded and re-signing as No. 31 in the midst of 2014. And in 2015, well-traveled linebacker Dekoda Watson did the same before moving up to No. 53 over the course of his three stints with the organization.

Safety Cedric Thompson was the last to sport No. 41 while a member of New England’s practice squad and 2016 preseason roster. It is Jones’ turn now.

The 23-year-old still has time to make some history with it.