Antonio Brown was the only big signing the Patriots reportedly made yesterday. While the football world was going crazy over Brown’s release and subsequent “signing” with the Patriots, the team quietly locked up an up and coming defender on the roster in CB Jonathan Jones. Jones is a quality depth option who does a lot of things in the secondary, which made him a potential extension candidate this season. The Patriots obviously had similar thoughts, as they gave him a three-year contract extension with a base value of $21M (max value of $25M) and $13M guaranteed. Jones was set to play the 2019 season on a 2nd round tender worth just north of $3M before reaching free agency before signing the extension.
Jones is the second highest-paid CB in terms of yearly average
Jones will be averaging over $7M a season from 2020-2022, with a max value of $8.33M, making him the 2nd highest paid corner and defensive back on the roster next season after top CB Stephon Gilmore ($13M/yr). That number also puts him ahead of Jason McCourty, who is much older than the 26-year-old Jones, signed a 2 year $10M contract in March. McCourty is pretty much a year-to-year player from a long term perspective while J.C. Jackson and Joejuan Williams are on rookie contracts.
In terms of overall on the defense: Only Stephon Gilmore, Dont’a Hightower, Michael Bennett, and Devin McCourty all average more on their current deals than Jones.
Where his contract rates vs. other top nickel DBs
Logan Ryan (3/$30M), Chris Harris Jr. (5/$42.5M), and Justin Coleman (4/$36M) are all making north of $8M on their current contracts. This puts Jones right behind those three for some of the highest paid 5th DBs in the league. Ryan and Coleman both got their contracts in free agency from the Titans and Lions respectively, as the slot corner role has become increasingly more important after the emergence of slot receivers in the previous decade.
Major role for Jonathan Jones in the secondary moving forward
Jones saw his workload increase in the postseason, being asked to shadow speedster Tyreek Hill (with Devin McCourty aggressively helping) in the AFCCG and playing a lot of safety against the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. He’s also been a very solid CB who can line up inside and outside while contributing on the four core units on Special Teams. I expect to see Jones play a major role in the defense as his contract is similar to highly compensated slot/nickel corners such as Justin Coleman ($9M/yr) and Chris Harris Jr. ($8.5M/yr). Jones won’t be asked to play exclusively in the slot, just when his guy lines up there. Jones also gives the Patriots an answer for covering Tyreek Hill underneath with help (they’re always going to double him moving forward).
All Patriots CBs are under contract through 2020
The Patriots are carrying 5 corners on the roster, now all have team control through the 2020 season. All five of them figure to play a major role in the 2019 season, as each CB presents their own matchup strengths and weaknesses. In a league where 5 DBs are playing 75-80% of the snaps, having all five CBs play at a competent is paramount for the team to continue to be able to defend some of the best passing attacks in the NFL. Jones is a critical depth option in the secondary due to his explosive speed and ability to contribute in the kicking game. For Jones, the guaranteed money is pretty significant with almost 70% of it guaranteed. Unless there’s a high signing bonus involved, I’m guessing his salary is guaranteed through the 2021 season as well as his roster status.