The New England Patriots no longer have to worry about losing their top cornerback to another team.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was the first to report that the Patriots had reached an agreement with cornerback Jonathan Jones to return to the team on a two-year deal. According to Doug Kyed of AtoZ Sports, the deal is worth $19 million with $13 million being guaranteed.
Jones led the way for New England’s secondary in 2022. He started 16 games and finished tied for the team lead in interceptions with four per Pro Football Reference.
The cornerback was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Auburn in 2016. This will be his third contract with the franchise. After the departure of J.C. Jackson prior to the 2022 regular season, Jones filled his shoes impressively.
The return of Jones is even more important as he has become a leader in the locker room. he discussed his role in the locker room with NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry.
“I think I’ve kind of grown into that role,” Jones said. “A lot of the older guys, Devin (McCourty) and Slate (Matthew Slater), have always pushed me into that way of being more vocal,” Jones said. “I was kind of more of a guy who led by example, tried to do things the right way. But those guys have kind of pushed me into being more of a vocal leader for the team and different things like that.”
Jonathan Jones Wanted to Stay With the New England Patriots
Prior to returning to the Patriots, Jones discussed wanting to return to New England.
“That’s always the goal,” Jones told Perry. “I think for a guy to be in a place for his entire career, that’s abnormal. So that’s kind of always a goal for players. And I enjoy it. I’ve been here most of my adult life. It’s consistency here for me. And I love New England. The fans, the people, you know how crazy they are about the sports here. It’s definitely a second home for me.”
Jabrill Peppers Also Will Be Returning to the New England Patriots
Jones isn’t the only member of the secondary that will be returning to New England. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Jabrill Peppers will re-sign with the Patriots. According to Schefter, he will sign a two-year deal.
Peppers appeared in 17 games last season with New England, recording 60 tackles and recovering one fumble per Pro Football Reference. With Devin McCourty announcing his retirement, the return of Peppers is quite important.
The safety earned praise in his first season with the Patriots for his physical play.
“Have you seen the guy? The guy looks like the Incredible Hulk,” Patriots captain Matthew Slater said “It’s muscles on top of muscles. Physicality is an understatement when you talk about his game.
“He certainly embraces it and the way he’s able to really roll his hips on contact in short area spaces, whether that’s defensively or in the kicking game, it’s super impressive,” Slater added. “So, he brings a level of physicality that few guys his size can bring.”