Patriots Offseason Outlook: this corner of veterans faces an uncertain future New England Patriots

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Before the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in Indianapolis later this month, we are reviewing the New England Patriots register position by position. We will look at which players have distinguished themselves in 2019, which have some work to do this out of season and which ones could leave the city.

Next: the cornerbacks.

UNDER CONTRACT
Stephon Gilmore
J.C. Jackson
Jason McCourty
Jonathan Jones
Joejuan Williams
Justin Bethel
D’Angelo Ross
Lenzy Pipkins

FREE AGENTS IN PROGRESS
None

BEST PERFORMANCE
No patriot has had a better 2019 season than Gilmore, who became the first cornerback since 2009 to win the NFL defensive prize of the year. He also earned the Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors from the first team for the second consecutive season after leading the NFL in defensive passes (20) and ending in ties first in interceptions (six), often covering the threat of receiving n . 1 of the opponent.

Jackson was also excellent, firmly establishing himself as one of the best young corners in the championship. The second year pro intercepted five passes, broke another five and posted the lowest score against (37.0) of any NFL cornerback. After a two-point performance in week 15, Gilmore said that Jackson “has the best ball skills I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen many turns.”

Bethel has just played defense but is one of the main players in the NFL’s soccer / punt coverage. The three-time Pro Bowler teamed up with Matthew Slater to wreak havoc as a machine gunner after signing with the Patriots in late October.

IT NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
There were no weak dazzling links in this unit. Jones, the top corner of the Patriots slot, struggled for the stretch after an excellent start, allowing four touchdowns in a span of five games in November and December. However, he remains a valuable member of the New England secondary and has demonstrated his versatility by sometimes going safely.

Williams has only played a handful of defensive shots this season (7.9 percent) after being drafted in the second round, but this has had more to do with the depth above him than with any poor performance in his end. The Vanderbilt product performed well when requested, allowing three tricks on six targets for 32 yards without touchdown and a break break, for Pro Football Focus.

TOP STORYLINES OFFSASON
1. Will Jason McCourty return? The 32-year-old has a team option in his 2020 contract, which means patriots can decide whether they want to keep him around for another season or free him.

McCourty started New England’s top 10 games in 2019 and played well, but a groin injury derailed his season. He only played nine shots in total over the past seven Patriots contests, then underwent an off-season surgery. The security of patriots Devin McCourty, Jason’s twin brother, is slated to hit the free agency without restrictions next month.

“In an ideal world, I think we’d love to continue playing together,” Jason McCourty told NESN.com during the Super Bowl LIV week in Miami. “This may not be determined by us. I have a team option, so if the team takes my option and Dev goes and plays somewhere else, then it won’t be. But I think for us, if we could choose, we would certainly end our career playing side by side. ”

Jason McCourty has played alongside his brother for the past two seasons after spending the first nine years of his career in non-playoff teams in Tennessee and Cleveland. He plans to bring in a $ 5.75 million salary hit this season.

Refusing to exercise McCourty’s option would free up $ 4 million in the space limit, for Over The Cap. The Patriots must make this decision before the new championship year begins on March 18th.

2. Can a non-starter emerge in this offseason? This means that Williams, Ross or Pipkins, the latter of whom signed with New England this week following bouts with Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.

Williams showed obvious talent during the 2019 preseason and his rare size (6 feet-3, £ 212) could offer him additional opportunities in defending Bill Belichick. The Patriots tried it out safely during their preseason final.

Ross was also an extraordinary unexpected summer, making his head spin in the training camp before landing in the injured reserve at the end of the season in mid-August. The New Mexico product has the potential to become the latest in a long line of Cornerback success stories not elaborated by Patriots – a list that includes Jackson, Jones, Malcolm Butler, Cre’von LeBlanc and Kenny Moore.

Patriots are also likely to add more bodies to this group of positions through the veterans’ free agency, drafts or post-draft drafts.

3. Will Williams be punished for his off-field accident? The 22-year-old was arrested last month in his Tennessee native on drug charges after police allegedly found prescription pills, “a large amount of marijuana” and drug accessories in his Land Rover during a traffic stop. Williams is due in court on February 21st. If found guilty, he could face additional discipline under the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Miniature photo via Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports images

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