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NFL free agency 2023: Jonathan Jones signed a team-friendly contract to stay with the Patriots

New England kept its starting cornerback on a two-year deal.

Chicago Bears v New England Patriots Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The New England Patriots had a relatively quiet first day of free agency, and approached it with an eye on the internal rather than the rest of the league. As part of this process, they also locked up one of their few premier free agents: cornerback Jonathan Jones agreed to an extension that was reported 12 minutes into the legal tampering window.

The contract will run through two years at a total of $19 million with $13 million in guarantees. The deal is a solid one for Jones, who will remain with the team that gave him his NFL start back in 2016.

It also presents good value from a Patriots perspective, though, as a look at the detailed breakdown shows:

Jonathan Jones: Contract details

Base salary: $1.5 million (fully guaranteed)
Signing bonus proration: $3.75 million
Roster bonus: $1 million
Incentives: $500,000
Salary cap hit: $6.19 million

Base salary: $8 million (incl. $4 million guaranteed)
Signing bonus proration: $3.75 million
Roster bonus: $1 million
Incentives: $500,000
Salary cap hit: $12.75 million

The contract obviously guarantees Jones a spot on the 2023 roster, regardless of whether the team will use him in the slot, out wide, or even as a Devin McCourty replacement at safety. His $1.5 million salary for the upcoming season is fully guaranteed, as is his signing bonus. In addition, $940,800 of his roster bonus is considered likely to be earned and therefore part of the 2023 cap calculations.

The resulting cap hit of $6.19 million currently ranks as the 10th highest on the team. In a league-wide comparison, Jones ranks 29th in that category — right below Patriots teammate Jalen Mills ($6.21 million).

The following season, Jones’ cap hit doubles to $12.75 million. Nonetheless, there is a good chance he still remains on the roster given the $7.75 million in guarantees embedded into his deal for 2024 — guarantees that would remain on New England’s books as dead cap in case the team opts to release Jones.

All in all, however, the deal is a good one from a team perspective: it allows the Patriots to keep their most experienced defensive back at a cost possibly below what he would have gotten had he truly explored the open market.