Jonathan Jones is one of the Patriots' top free agents
by Zack Cox
The Patriots will not use the franchise tag to retain their No. 1 cornerback.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported New England will not tag Jonathan Jones ahead of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, adding the team “still has interest in bringing him back.”
That decision should not surprise Patriots fans.
Jones has been a valuable player for New England for several years, and his 2022 shift from the slot to outside corner was largely successful. But the franchise tag value for cornerbacks is $18.1 million — more than double the $7 million annually Jones earned on his last contract and far more than he’s likely to command on the open market.
Speaking of the open market, the Patriots have just over a week to hammer out a new deal with Jones. If they can’t, he’d become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career when the new league year opens at 4 p.m. next Wednesday.
MassLive.com’s Mark Daniels on Tuesday reported New England “has been working toward signing Jones to a new deal and talks are expected to continue throughout the week,” but added it’s “very possible” the 29-year-old will hit the market.
In a separate report, NFL Media’s Mike Giardi indicated Jones should have “a number of suitors.”
“He’s still viewed by most teams I talked to as a slot CB,” Giardi tweeted, “but his performance as an outside CB this year only served to heighten awareness about his talent.”
Jones has been with the Patriots since he signed as an undrafted rookie out of Auburn in 2016. He and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers headline New England’s group of close to 20 impending free agents.
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