Things didn’t go well for the New England Patriots in their preseason finale against former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and his Las Vegas Raiders on Friday night in Sin City.
The Patriots were blasted and controlled 26-3. The offense looked rudimentary, and the Raiders’ offense–without its starters–had little trouble moving the ball against New England. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said his team didn’t “play well in any phase of the game.” When that’s the case, it is tough to hone in on one area when searching for the fix.
While the Patriots offense has taken the bulk of criticism this offseason, the team has recently been urged to add a playmaker in the middle of their defense.
Deion Jones to the Patriots?
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz, the Atlanta Falcons considered trading linebacker Deion Jones but couldn’t find a suitable offer. Rather than cutting Jones, the Falcons have chosen to keep him on their roster as they don’t stand to save money thanks to his $24.8 million dead cap hit.
Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay named the Patriots as a potential landing spot for Jones. The 27-year-old has two years remaining on his $57 million contract. That and the aforementioned dead cap hit could be a deterrent for a team considering a player who is rehabbing from a serious shoulder injury. However, when Jones is healthy, he is among the most athletic linebackers in the NFL.
His sideline-to-sideline speed is the kind of element the Patriots missed on defense in 2021. While the linebacker group has gotten a bit more athletic with the exit of older players like Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, and Jamie Collins, it would get an even more impacting injection of speed with a healthy Jones.
While it might be fun for Patriots fans to wonder and fantasize about Jones landing in New England, Belichick and Co. have to consider his options for shoring up some other areas of the team recently ravaged by injuries.
Injuries Are Doing a Number on the Patriots’ Offense
Thankfully for Belichick and Patriots fans, Mac Jones is healthy. New England has a healthy franchise quarterback, but there are some legitimate concerns about the skill positions around him.
Injuries forced wide receivers Kristian Wilkerson and Tyquan Thornton out of the Patriots’ lineup. Wilkerson is trying to recover from a concussion suffered in a joint practice with the Carolina Panthers last week. Thornton suffered a broken clavicle in the actual preseason contest with the Panthers.
He is expected to miss as much as three months of action. It’s a major bummer because both guys showed positive signs in preseason and training camp. Thornton could have added a dose of speed the Patriots’ offense hasn’t seen in years.
Unfortunately, the injury puts a massive monkey wrench in what could have been a big rookie season for Thornton. As it is, when he returns, he’ll spend time learning to trust his collarbone while also trying to get up to speed.
On Friday, WR-RB hybrid Ty Montgomery was carted off the field with what could be a serious injury. New England was seemingly looking to Montgomery to fill the role vacated by the retired James White. If he has to miss extended time, New England may need to sign a running back for depth. The same could be said for the wide receiver position with the injuries to Wilkerson and Thornton.
Jones sounds like a great idea, but New England may have more pressing issues on offense.