The New England Patriots’ exodus continues. After Trey Flowers and Trent Brown agreed to free agency deals with the Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders, respectively, on Monday, and after wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson left for the Chicago Bears on Tuesday, another player is headed out of Foxboro: cornerback Eric Rowe will sign a one-year, $3.5 million dollar contract with the Miami Dolphins, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Rowe originally joined the Patriots via trade before the start of the 2016 season. The former Philadelphia Eagles second-round draft pick went on to become a valuable rotational cornerback for New England and as such was destined to earn the number two role after 2018’s free agency departure of Malcolm Butler. As was the case his entire career, however, an injury put a damper on Rowe’s potential.
In only the second game of the 2018 regular season, he suffered a groin injury that kept him out of the next three games. Rowe returned in week six, but played a limited role as New England’s fourth cornerback. He appeared the following week as well before returning to inactivity, and ultimately being placed on injured reserve in late October. Meanwhile, first-year Patriots Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson established themselves as the second and third option at cornerback.
New England’s deep cornerback group in combination with Rowe’s injury history — he played only 27 of a possible 57 games for the Patriots — now prompted the team to go another direction. And even though the defender displayed plenty of potential time and again during his three seasons in New England, the decision to not pursue him and instead let him join ex-Patriot defensive signal caller Brian Flores in Miami cannot be questioned.
Given the relative low-cost nature of the deal, Rowe will likely not have too big an impact on the Patriots’ compensatory draft picks for next year.