The New England Patriots added a total of ten players during the 2019 NFL draft, and the second of those picks was invested in cornerback Joejuan Williams: the Patriots chose the Vanderbilt defender with the 45th overall selection. But while he was not the first player drafted by the world champions, the club still made him the first one to officially be brought into the fold by signing him to his rookie deal.
As first reported by NESN’s Doug Kyed, the Patriots and Williams agreed to a four-year contract. With the rookie wage scale being introduced in 2011 as part of the current collective bargaining agreement, contract negotiations for the majority of draft picks have become rather unspectacular: Williams’ deal with New England will be worth a total of $6.6 million with an expected 2019 salary cap hit of around $1.2 million.
The Patriots, of course, traded up in the second round to get Williams — despite the team having one of the deepest cornerback depth charts in the league already. The 21-year-old will still add a different element to the group: his size and physicality make him an intriguing rotational option against taller wide receivers and tight ends, as well as more depth alongside the Patriots’ top trio of Stephon Gilmore, Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson.
[UPDATE] According to the Boston Sports Journal’s Miguel Benzan, New England has also signed another draft pick: third-round selection Yodny Cajuste, brought in with the 101st overall choice, and the Patriots agreed to a four-year deal worth a total of $3.85 million. Cajuste reportedly received a $822,180 signing bonus as the deal’s only guarantee, and will hit New England’s salary cap with a sum of $700,545.
Cajuste was the fifth player chosen by the world champions, and he brings considerable upside to the table as a swing-tackle backup with starting potential further down the line. As for now, the West Virginia product offers quality depth alongside presumed starting left tackle and 2018 first-round draft choice Isaiah Wynn, who is coming off a torn Achilles tendon, and veteran free agency pickup Jared Veldheer.
[UPDATE] According to The Athletic’s Nick Underhill, the Patriots have also agreed to a contract with a third draft pick of theirs: fifth-round defensive lineman Byron Cowart has signed his standard four-year deal with New England. While final numbers have yet to be reported, the belief is that the deal will be worth around $2.8 million in total with a salary cap hit of approximately $570,000 in 2019.
Cowart was selected by the Patriots with the 159th overall selection. Coming off a mostly disappointing college career given his status as a former five-star recruit, the 22-year-old is a developmental option capable of playing both on the interior of the defensive line as well as the edge. As such, the Maryland product will compete for a backup role on what is a deep but at times unproven New England line.
[UPDATE] According to the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride and Ben Volin, the Patriots have also signed fourth-round quarterback Jarrett Stidham to a contract. As is the case with the other non-Cajuste signings, the final numbers have not yet been reported. However, the deal will run over four years per the CBA and have a total value of around $3.2 million with a salary cap hit of circa $650,000 this year.
Stidham was drafted 133rd overall by the Patriots to compete for the backup spot behind starter Tom Brady. While the Auburn product did not post the greatest numbers in college, he does have some intriguing skills that could help him beat out fellow depth quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling. Either way, Stidham is probably a lock to make the team as at least its third quarterback.