Patriots Urged to Pair Commanders’ Free Agent With Christian Gonzalez

Christian Gonzalez

Getty The New England Patriots can pair a free agent for the Washington Commanders with cornerback Christian Gonzalez.

Reshuffling the deck at cornerback won’t be atop the list of needs for the New England Patriots this offseason, but new head coach Jerod Mayo can’t ignore the position. Fortunately, Mayo can alter the depth chart in three ways by signing one free agent, Washington Commanders veteran Kendall Fuller, and pairing him with 2022 first-round draft pick Christian Gonzalez.

It’s a suggestion made by NBCS Boston Patriots Insider Phil Perry. Speaking on the “Next Pats Podcast,” Perry named Fuller an “under-the-radar need” whose arrival would prompt a position switch for Jonathan Jones.

Perry asked the question, “do you have an outside corner opposite Christian Gonzalez? Jonathan Jones, we know, can do it, do you want him to do it? To me, he’s better suited to play on the interior, you know what you’re getting there. Size-wise, it’s not an issue on the inside, the way it might be on the outside.”

Describing what makes Fuller an appealing target in 2024 NFL free agency, Perry noted, he’s “a true in the post kind of player. He is thought to be really smart, high football IQ, tough, can do a lot of the things that the Patriots have liked over the years.”


Perry outlined a team-friendly contract for the cap-rich Pats paying Fuller $13 million per year. It would likely be a short-term deal for a 29-year-old Perry also believes could even “end up being your free safety.”

Initially, the plan would be for Fuller to bring some veteran stability to a cornerback group set to be remade around Gonzalez once he’s fully healthy.

Kendall Fuller a Good Fit for Patriots

Fuller struggled a times last season on a shaky Commanders’ defense playing lots of zone coverage. He allowed a career-high nine touchdowns, but Fuller did force 25 incompletions from 80 targets, per Pro Football Reference.

When he was good, No. 29 was exceptional, particularly in single coverage. Numbers from Pro Football Focus showed how Fuller thrived facing one-on-one matchups early in the season.

At 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds, he’s better suited to the press-man coverage the Pats often payed under Bill Belichick. The latter’s no longer in charge, but Mayo and new defensive coordinator DeMarcus Covington were on Belichick’s staff, so there’ll be some scheme continuity.

Fuller playing on the outside could let 5-foot-10, 185-pounder Jones slide inside, as Perry suggested. Jones is opportunistic and spent the early portion of his career in the slot.

Adding Fuller and moving Jones can get a revamp of New England’s secondary started in earnest. Another step might involve dumping J.C. Jackson, who is expected to be a casualty of the salary cap.

Dumping Jackson and making room for Fuller’s contract won’t be a problem for a Patriots team projected by to have $86,806,052 worth of cap space. Spending some of the funds on Fuller will be easier to sell if Gonzalez is back close to 100 percent.

Christian Gonzalez Needs Breakout 2nd Season After Injury

Gonzalez was dominant before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. The 17th pick in last year’s draft showed glimpses of his shutdown talent, notably against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2, per PFF.

Getting Gonzalez back up to speed will be vital for Mayo and his staff. Being able to lockdown one side of the field will open up the playbook for Covington, in terms of disguising pressure and coverage.

Having Fuller play solid football away from Gonzalez would also keep the Patriots competitive against the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets in a pass-heavy AFC East.

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