The New England Patriots are facing some major questions at their cornerback position this offseason, but it appears one of them will be answered in a favorable way: Will Jonathon Jones be ready to participate in offseason workouts after ending the 2021 season on injured reserve?
According to a report by NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, Jones “has progressed nicely” from the shoulder injury that forced him to undergo season-ending surgery. As a result of his encouraging rehabilitation process, the expectation is that the 28-year-old will be “able to train fully” during the offseason.
Jones originally hurt his shoulder last October versus the Dallas Cowboys and underwent surgery just a few days later. Up until that point, he had appeared in all six of New England’s regular season games and was on the field for roughly half of the club’s defensive snaps.
Jones notched 20 tackles as well as an interception while primarily guarding the slot; with him out, the Patriots turned to second-year man Myles Bryant as their number one slot option. Bryant played some encouraging football filling in for Jones — he registered an interception, a forced fumble and a sack — but the starter was missed, especially during the wild card playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Luckily for New England, it appears Jones will be back sooner rather than later. The team will begin its offseason workout program on April 18.
An undrafted free agent out of Auburn in 2016, Jones developed into a reliable contributor for the Patriots over the last six seasons. Seeing regular action as both a slot cornerback and in the kicking game, he has appeared in a combined 93 regular season and playoff games since joining New England.
In 2019, Jones signed a three-year, $21 million contract extension with the team to remain under contract through 2023. He therefore is one of six cornerbacks signed for the upcoming season alongside Myles Bryant, Jalen Mills, Joejuan Williams, Shaun Wade and Justin Bethel.
The Patriots’ top cornerback of last year, meanwhile, is headed for unrestricted free agency: J.C. Jackson’s contract expires later this month, and there is a realistic chance that he will leave New England. Getting a player of Jones’ quality and experience back is therefore welcome news for the team’s defensive backfield and cornerback group.