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Cornerback Jonathan Jones reiterates desire to stay with Patriots in free agency

Jones will enter the open market for the first time in his career next week.

NFL: SEP 25 Ravens at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jonathan Jones has seen almost everything throughout his first seven years in the NFL. One thing the veteran cornerback has not experienced is yet free agency, but that is about to change quite soon.

The clock, after all, is ticking for him to enter the open market. An unrestricted free agent, Jones is set to become available for other teams next week; the legal tampering window opens on Monday followed by free agency proper two days later.

Where it will take the 29-year-old remains to be seen. Making the media rounds on Wednesday, however, he echoed his previous statements: his goal is to stay with the New England Patriots.

“That’s the desire, to be back here,” Jones told the Boston Herald following an appearance at the Patriots Hall of Fame in honor of International Women’s Day. “It’s what I know, it’s what I love, it’s New England. It’s hard to say no to New England.”

If indeed staying put, Jones would get a significant step closer to one of his apparent goals — playing his entire career with the same organization.

“That’s always the goal, for a guy to be in one place for his entire career,” he told NBC Sports Boston later on Wednesday. “That’s abnormal, so that’s always a goal for players. And I enjoy it. I’ve been here most of my adult life. I know it’s consistency here for me. I love New England — the fans, the people, how crazy they are about the sports here. It’s definitely a second home for me.”

Jones originally entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie out of Auburn in 2016. Over the years that followed he developed into a reliable contributor for the team, appearing in a combined 109 regular season and playoff games and helping the Patriots win two championships.

His performance as a versatile defensive back and special teams presence prompted New England to sign him to a three-year, $21 million extension in 2019. As a result, Jones never got to taste free agency.

While that will change next week, he remains even-keeled.

“There’s not much anxiety. You just take it in stride,” he told the Boston Herald. “It’s something new for me. I’ve never been through free agency. But I just have faith it’ll all work out in the end.”

Might it even work out before the market opens? Jones did not rule out that possibility.

“I can’t say that I have any insight that it would, but it’s possible we could,” he said. “That would be great. If not, that’s just part of it ... at some point, I’d like to have it past me. But it’s going to be what it’s going to be. I think I’m just taking it in stride and enjoying the journey.”