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Heading Into Free Agency, Patriots Have Two Tough Player Decisions to Make

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
1 month ago at 10:53 am ET

Heading Into Free Agency, Patriots Have Two Tough Player Decisions to MakePatriots defensive end Jonathan Jones for the New England goal line after a 4th quarter interception and touchdown. The New England Patriots hosts the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on Nov 6, 2020. [The Providence Journal / Kris Craig]

Heading into free agency, it’s going to see if the New England Patriots can retain a couple of key players on both sides of the football before they even begin exploring adding new talent to the roster.

The two names that come to mind are both wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and defensive back Jonathan Jones, both of whom have carved out solid roles at their respective positions.

While neither player would necessarily be considered elite, they’ve each quietly been key in New England’s success over the last couple of seasons. Meyers has obviously been the Patriots’ leading receiver the last two years, while Jones anchored a secondary that was relatively thin to the point where by midseason, they had two rookies playing alongside him.

Jones has often drawn the responsibility of the opponents’ fastest players over the past few seasons, allowing the Patriots to run various defensive looks that have certainly contributed to what limited success they’ve had the last several years.

While his final contest saw him get beat on a tough play where Josh Allen hit Stefon Diggs on a 49-yard bomb up the left sideline, it also came on a play where Jones was playing on the perimeter and found himself alone without any safety help as the Patriots went into that game shorthanded with both Jack Jones and Jalen Mills both sidelined due to injuries.

Jones also finished the season tied with Devin McCourty with a team-high four interceptions, including a pick-six he had against Indianapolis in a 26-3 blowout win over the Colts.

But overall, he was quietly one of the bright spots in season where there were so many question marks. His strengths are as a slot corner but his speed has been a big asset that would be difficult to see them lose. Despite a season-ending shoulder injury in 2021, he’s also been one of the more durable players in their secondary.

Keeping him could be difficult, especially depending on just how much money he draws from the open market. The 29-year-old is also likely heading into what could be his final NFL payday and whether or not the Patriots can structure a deal close to any offer he receives will likely decide whether or not we’ll see him on the field next season.

As for Meyers, the situation is somewhat similar. It’s pretty obvious that he’s likely more valuable here than elsewhere, with other teams likely viewing him as a mid-tier player to compliment their own current group.

The former N.C. State receiver finished 2022 with 67 catches for 804 yards and a career-high six touchdowns, including leading the offense again in third down receptions.

While the Patriots could potentially also look at options this offseason to add an impact player to this receiving corps, it doesn’t change the fact that Meyers has been absolutely terrific after earning a spot as an undrafted free agent in 2019. He’s been a hard-working player who also fits their system and knows how to get open, and it’s been well-documented that he has a good relationship with current starting quarterback, Mac Jones.

Pair him with someone that opponents have to game plan around, and it’s likely that he’ll be even more effective – as hard as that would be to imagine given his production – in their offense.

The main issue with Meyers is likely the same problem they’ll face with Jones. If someone comes in with an offer that’s just too good to refuse, it would be difficult for Meyers not to take it, unless New England could structure the guaranteed portion of the deal to make it close to what he could receive from another team.

Another factor could also be the local marketing opportunities for both players, as fans here certainly recognize their respective impacts, which definitely provides value and would also provide them additional financial opportunities off the field.

But either way, losing either player would leave a void that would be difficult to fill. As it currently stands, the Patriots don’t really have another answer on their roster to make up for the production they’d lose if either player walks. They don’t have anyone with Jones’s speed or experience on defense, and they don’t have anyone who has shown the ability to be as clutch as Meyers in key situations.

How it all plays out will certainly be interesting to watch. But for a team that is trying to rebound from a tough year, keeping both players in the fold would definitely be a nice starting point if each side can make it work.

Posted Under: 2023 Patriots Offseason
Tags: Jakobi Meyers Jonathan Jones

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    Michael P. McGrath
    Michael P. McGrath
    1 month ago

    It will all come down to money. Nice complimentary pieces who have been forced to take on roles a cut above. As to WR. We could stomach losing Meyers if we used the savings towards a true #1 WR. As to CB. Many elite CB’s have left over the years. Some were not so elite once they moved on. For whatever reason CB has been an easier position to fill over the years than WR. If Jones and the offense step up losing either probably not a difference maker. Find a true slot and use Bourne appropriately. If Jones under… Read more »

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