The New England Patriots may soon need a deep cornerback after Jack Jones last friday at Logan Airport.
The cornerback was a huge positional weakness entering the 2023 season, and the Patriots addressed it in a major way by selecting Oregon star Christian Gonzalez with the 17th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Patriots were already going to put a lot of responsibility on Gonzalez’ shoulders going into Week 1 – he’d likely be The team’s No. 1 cornerback – and now the rookie could face more pressure given Jones’ uncertain future in New England.
In addition to Jones and Gonzalez, the Patriots’ 90-man roster also includes Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones, Miles Bryant, and Shaun Wade, among others, as cornerbacks.
It would be a good idea to add another veteran to the training camp mix. Which of these corners is left in the free agent market for the Patriots to consider signing? Here are four interesting options.
2022 stats (team): 35 solo tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles, 1 interception in 13 games (Ravens)
Peters has spent the past two seasons with the Crows and has played well. The four-time All-Pro’s main concern is injuries. He missed four games last season, didn’t play at all in 2021 (teared his ACL) and played in just six games in 2019. When Peters is healthy, he remains a starting quarterback.
However, there may be competition for his services. The Athletic’s Vic Tavor recently reported that The Raiders are “likely” to sign Peters And brought him on a visit last month.
2022 stats (team): 50 solo tackles and 10 passes defensed in 14 games (Giants)
Morrow played well for the Giants last season and finished fourth in total tackles with 66. He played 14 games, starting 11 of them. Honestly, it’s a little surprising that Moreau remains unsigned. Someone who was instrumental in the playoffs deserves another chance.
2022 stats (team)35 solo tackles, eight passes defensed, zero interceptions in 15 games (Bengals)
Apple was the 2016 first pick (10th overall) by the Giants but he’s already played for four teams. He spent his final two seasons with the Bengals and started 30 of the 31 regular season games he played for Cincinnati during that span. Starting caliber corners aren’t easy to find at this point in the season, and Apple is still that kind of player. He also has 10 games of playoff experience.
One concern about potentially signing Apple is that it’s not culture-appropriate for the Patriots. He’s very active on social media, talks a lot of trash and gives opponents a lot of drives and billboard material, which the Patriots did a pretty good job of avoiding during head coach Bill Belichick’s 23-year tenure. Maybe change and mitigate such behavior to get a job, though.
2022 stats (team): 14 solo tackles, three passes defensed, one interception in six games (Falcons)
Hayward was released by the Falcons in April and did not sign with a new team. He played in just six games for the Falcons and was placed on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury the previous October. Hayward isn’t the second-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl player he was earlier in his career, but he’s still a decent option as a third or fourth cornerback. Last season was the first time he missed a significant portion of a game due to injury. He had not missed a game in seven of his previous eight seasons.