Chalk this one up as pure speculation, but safety Colin Jones is now a free agent after being released by the Carolina Panthers and a potential fit for the New England Patriots.
More than likely, if Jones has a place with the Pats, it would be as a second special teams ace, likely on the opposite side of the field from the recently re-signed Matthew Slater.
Could Jones Be the Patriots’ Next Free-Agent Signing?
Zack Cox of NESN seems to believe Jones would be a good fit for the Pats as well:
Jones is a little more than a special teams ace whose hard-nosed play and history of locker room leadership seem like a perfect match for the Patriots. The 2020 season could potentially be one of major transition for the Patriots, that’s especially the case if future Hall-of-Fame QB Tom Brady doesn’t re-sign with the team.
At this point, almost everything related to the Patriots revolves around Brady’s decision, and no one seems to know where he will land. Before the G.O.A.T’s future is certain you may not see a lot of movement from the Patriots, but here’s why Jones is one to keep an eye on as it relates to New England.
Jones’ Experience and Skills
The 32-year-old Jones has been in the league for nine years. He’s played just about every position in the secondary in addition to special teams. He has started 14 of the 137 games he’s appeared in during his NFL career.
During his career with the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers, Jones has three interceptions, a forced fumble, and 137 total tackles. If the Patriots have an opportunity to ink him as a backup safety as well as a contributor on special teams, they would be strengthening two aspects of their team.
What is Jones’ Salary Range?
Jones isn’t likely to command a high salary. as a matter of fact, he probably could be had for less than the two-year $5.3 million the team invested to re-up Slater who is now 35 years old. Jones made $930,000 in 2019 and may agree to a similar deal if he plays in 2020, which isn’t a given considering his age, tenure and modest standing as a major playmaker in the NFL.
This wouldn’t be a major acquisition on the surface, but it is still one that fits with the Pats’ identity through the Bill Belichick years. Before anything can be done on this front, it’s likely the future of free-agent Nate Ebner must be determined. He is a Patriots’ special teams ace. While the team has already brought Slater back, there could still be a need for depth if Ebner walks.