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These new slot cornerback contracts are, once again, proving Bill Belichick’s a genius

You already knew that though.

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NFL: New England Patriots-Minicamp Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

In case you were still hung over and/or hurting yourself today to see if you still feel on Thursday after the Stanley Cup and missed this news, stop me if you’ve heard this one before:

Another former Patriot went out and got the bag.

Granted, Kenny Moore was only a Patriot for roughly the same amount of time as a summer internship, but hey, as the Lonely Island and Akon says, still counts.

As our resident Patriots historian and Six-Degrees-of-Bill-Belichick expert Oliver Thomas could surely tell you, Moore was *this* close to making the Patriots’ final roster in 2017, but after a solid camp and preseason, he missed final cuts, the Colts picked him up off waivers, and now he can buy the nice wine that doesn’t come in a box. A feel-good story to be sure.

That also puts Kenny Moore on a relatively exclusive, but rapidly growing list: low-round or undrafted corners that the Patriots scoop up, mold into ruthlessly efficient shape-shifting zone and man-to-man coverage machines, and then either get let go or traded and proceed to tear it up and get paid by 31 other teams that gladly throw contracts and waiver claims at anyone from Foxboro to try and bottle The Magic™.


Justin Coleman - now with the Lions on a $36 million contract

Cre’Von LeBlanc - now with the Eagles, still on his rookie deal

Ryan Lewis - now with the Buffalo Bills, still on his rookie deal (he even started 3 games in 2018 after Vontae Davis, uh, left the building)

Darryl Roberts - now with the New York Jets on a $18 million contract

And of course, Malcolm Butler, know very well.

For the final ingredient in our bacon cheeseburger with grilled cheeses for a bun today, now let’s check out what some of these nickel/slot cornerbacks are making these days. Good work if you can get it!

(For the record, I’m well aware that total contract value and guaranteed money might as well be “your IG profile picture vs how you look in real life”, but total value here suits our purposes just fine)

Again, remember, these are primarily nickel/slot guys. Doesn’t mean they can’t or don’t play outside, just that they mostly play the slot.

Tavon Young (Ravens) - 3 years, $25.8 million

Bryce Callahan (Broncos) - 3 years, $21 million

The aforementioned Justin Coleman (Lions) - 4 years, $36 million

Bobby McCain (Dolphins) - 4 years, $27 million

Chris Harris Jr (Broncos) - 5 years, $42.5 million

Nickell Robey-Coleman - $15.6 million

You get the idea. If you’re good at something, never do it for free, and all that.

All RIGHT, get to the Patriots part already, here goes:

Bill Belichick is not only getting BAMF slot cornerback production from a platoon of dudes making a fraction of any of the guys above, he’s setting the team up to keep doing it in 2020. And 2021. And quite possibly till....


....the end of The Brady Era.

First up: the man who didn’t even sniff the playoffs until after he hit Club 30, the man who blasted into football immortality when he skunked Brandin Cooks in the Super Bowl to preserve the goose egg on the scoreboard, Jason McCourty.

2018 salary: roughly $2.5 million after taking a haircut to stay on the team in September.

Super Bowl highlight as McCourty Island aside, how good was J-Mac in 2018?

Going to phone a friend: take it away, Pro Football Focus

The 31-year-old veteran defensive back ranked third in slot coverage grade (86.7) and third in first downs allowed per slot target (24.3%) in 2018.

Old dudes can still party!

Early in the season, though, J-Mac undeniably struggled as the Patriots purged the last of the Browns from his system. So how about that really fast kid from Auburn?

Turns out Jonathan Jones is quite productive as the slot corner as well!

Jonathan Jones had to start at slot CB against the Houston Texans in the season opener, and here’s a list of all the catches he allowed:





(get it? it’s an empty space, cause there weren’t any.)

He wasn’t just good for one game, though - as our fearless leader Bernd pointed out around Halloween, Jones got targeted playing as the slot CB 32 times (at that point, which was basically right around the return of the...J-Mac), and only allowed 16 receptions for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns. Oh, and Jon bagged 2 interceptions. Target the kid at your own peril.

Jonathan Jones 2018 salary: roughly $953,294. Less than a mil.

(The 2019 salary cap is is $188.2 million, FYI.)

And even though tripling a man’s salary would be enough to have most of us doing Jamie Collins backflips, Jones is still an absurd value at a 2019 restricted free agent salary of barely $3 million. Oh, one more thing - as you surely saw this offseason while refreshing Twitter like a maniac, J-Mac signed back on for another 2 years for a hair over $11 million.

Meanwhile, you know how people always talk about Danny Ainge’s WAR CHEST of “assets”?

Bill’s been quietly, and occasionally to the howling scorn of mere mortals like us, building a rookie-contract Walking-Dead-worthy stash of defensive backs to deploy in various situations that an enemy football team might employ. Boy that man sure loves his situational football.

This year: JoeJuan Williams (2nd round pick, he’s the 6’4” guy from Vandy)

Last year: Duke Dawson (also 2nd round pick, from Florida, and possible candidate to play nickel CB as well as maybe the Pat Chung role. Which is basically all of the roles)

2016: Cyrus know what, it was worth a shot, right?

Plus the normal side dish featuring your Keion Crossen and Ken Webster types.

BUT BUT JoEjUaN cAnT pLaY sLoT CB, right?

You know who lines up in the slot besides Julian Edelman? Larry Fitz. Keenan Allen. JuJu Smith-Schuster. Tyler Boyd. Anquan Boldin used to. Tight ends do all the time these days.

And you don’t think Bill got JoeJuan early specifically to make big WRs that feast on little corners go “FML, we got the Patriots this week”?

Duke and JoeJuan are both on rookie second-round pick salaries, meaning Duke’s making roughly $4.7 million over 2018-2021 and JoeJuan (being a higher pick) checks in at roughly $6.6 million over 2019-2022. You don’t have to be a highly coveted Nick Caserio type to appreciate the almost comical value that provides if either of those dudes turns out to be at least able to hold it down in the NFL. Spare us your Jordan Richards jokes, admittedly they’re funny but we’re all tired of them.

And if either of them turns out to be a card-carrying BAMF like, say, I dunno, The Gilly Lock...

(please note that after 1100 words, I have not mentioned undrafted rookie stud JC Jackson ONCE until just now...)

....imagine having to game-plan for that as an opposing offensive coordinator?

In a Monday meeting:

“We got Gilmore over here, JC Jackson, slot guy could be any combo of J-Mac, Jon Jones, Duke, and JoeJuan, and at any given point Patrick Chung can drop down and cover pretty much anyone man-to-man. Thoughts?”

(everyone stares blankly at their iPads)

“, who’s ready for lunch?”

Enjoy your weekend, everybody.