While the New England Patriots’ signing of Antonio Brown dominated the news on Saturday, another move made by the team flew under the radar a bit: the Patriots and cornerback Jonathan Jones agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $21 million. The deal will keep the 25-year-old in town for the foreseeable future and guarantees that one of the NFL’s best slot defenders will remain a part of New England’s secondary moving forward.
Jones immediately showed that the investment made in him was a good one, as he was dominant in the Patriots’ regular season opener on Sunday night. Playing 55 of a possible 69 defensive snaps, Jones was in lock-down mode all game long: despite being targeted nine times by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he surrendered only three receptions for a combined 19 yards.
His standout performance did not only help the Patriots secure a 33-3 blowout victory, it also earned Jones a spot on Pro Football Focus’ team of the week with a very good grade of 90.0:
The Patriots’ defense is best from back to front, a perfect fit in today’s NFL. Cornerback Jonathan Jones was key to that on Sunday Night Football, delivering an impressive performance in coverage. Targeted nine times on the night, he allowed just three receptions for 19 yards and came away with two pass breakups.
Playing on arguably the NFL’s best secondary, Jones has carved out a valuable role since joining the club as an undrafted rookie in 2016: seeing regular action on special teams, he started his career as a rotational defender. During the 2018 playoffs and into the new season, however, he established himself as a reliable slot corner — one that beat out former second-round pick Duke Dawson Jr. along the way.
Capable of lining up all over the formation, Jones’ contributions to the Patriots’ defense cannot be overlooked even though he makes fewer headlines than fellow cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Nevertheless, he is a valuable option in New England’s defensive backfield like the Steelers and their wide receivers found out first-hand on Sunday night. And for that one game at least, Jones repaid the Patriots’ trust in him by delivering a terrific performance.