Former Pro Bowler Named Patriots’ Best Possible Free Agent Signing

Getty A.J. Bouye

There is a strong belief amongst sports media members that the New England Patriots need an upgrade at cornerback. The team allowed J.C. Jackson to leave and sign with the Los Angeles Chargers in the off-season, and the attempt to fill his role with former Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler was a failed attempt to rekindle some old magic. 

Because of the perceived void the Patriots have in the No. 1 cornerback spot, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report has matched New England with free-agent A.J. Bouye.

Butler could return to the Patriots later this season as he was let go with an injury settlement. However, that seems unlikely. Still, Knox sees Bouye as a good additional option even if Butler returns to Foxborough.

“The 31-year-old A.J. Bouye should fit the criteria,” Knox wrote. “He signed a two-year, $7 million deal with Carolina last year but landed on injured reserve (foot) in December and was released in March with $1.2 million in dead money remaining on his contract.”

Bouye was far from spectacular with the Panthers last year, with zero interceptions and just three passes defended on the season in 10 games. It is hard to imagine Bouye’s potential arrival moving the needle for the Patriots.

Many Believe the Patriots Need an Upgrade at CB

The Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard has been pounding the Pats-need-an-upgrade-at-corner drum for over a week. He says the Patriots will be better if they can acquire a No. 1 corner who allows everyone else at the position to “slot down.”

According to Bedard, the best possible candidate is a top-notch player currently on a roster but whose team figures out of contention by the NFL trade deadline. That profile doesn’t cast a wide net, and perhaps that’s why Bouye might be a better option, though there is still some risk involved.

Bouye hasn’t played much football over the past two years (17 games), and he’s on the wrong side of 30 coming off an injury that ended his season. However, it figures to cost the Patriots fewer assets to take a flier on Bouye than it would to cough up draft picks for a veteran whose name is bigger than their impact at this stage of their career.

Is Everyone Sleeping on the Patriots’ Current Corners?

The challenge has been issued, and in many ways, the disrespect for Jalen Mills, Johnathon Jones, and Jack Jones is apparent. Despite the presence of Mills, a respected veteran, the belief is that the Patriots’ weakest area is still corner.

Johnathon Jones has played along with Stephon Gilmore and Jackson, perhaps waiting on his opportunity to prove he’s capable of being a No. 1. Still, the Patriots need an upgrade at his position, according to most experts.

Rookie Jack Jones has flashed some traits that suggest he could become a No. 1 corner down the road, but the belief in his development doesn’t seem to be strong enough throughout Patriots Nation.

The current group of corners figures to get a real test early.

The Patriots open the season on the road on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Miami might have the speediest and one of the most talented wide receiver groups in the NFL. If Mills and the Jones’ can keep up with Tyreek Hill, Jalen Waddle, Cedric Wilson, and tight end Mike Gesicki, we could see a decline in the cries for an upgrade at corner.

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