The New England Patriots released cornerback Jalen Mills on Friday, according to multiple reports. Cutting Mills saves the Patriots approximately $5 million against the 2023 cap, per Spotrac. Mills is available to sign with a new franchise of his choosing.
Mills is a quality and versatile rotational cornerback. He started 10 games for the Patriots in 2022, recording two interceptions and five pass breakups. Mills allowed 27 receptions on 45 targets last season, via Pro Football Focus. Opposing quarterbacks saw a middling quarterback rating of 79.2 when attempting throws in Mills’ direction. He’d be an asset to many defensive backfields around the league.
We’ve identified three potential landing spots for Jalen Mills.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Raiders general manager Dave Ziegler was New England’s director of player personnel when the Patriots signed Mills during the 2021 offseason. Several Raiders coaches were with Mills in New England, including Josh McDaniels, Mick Lombardi, and Bo Hardegree. There isn’t a staff around the league that’s more familiar with Mills and his unique skill set than Las Vegas’
Mills is a versatile defender that can play both safety and cornerback. The Raiders need help at both positions. Raiders free-agent cornerback Rock Ya-Sin is visiting the Baltimore Ravens and may not return to Vegas. The Raiders must improve a swiss-cheese passing defense that allowed a 29th-ranked 242.9 passing yards per contest last season. It’s imperative if they hope to slow down the Kansas City Chiefs. Signing Marcus Epps and Brandon Facyson is a start, but more is required.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman drafted Mills with a seventh-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. Mills thrived throughout five seasons in Philadelphia, winning Super Bowl LII with the franchise. The Eagles couldn’t afford to retain Mills when he signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Patriots, but he should be available on a more affordable contract now. The coaching staff has changed over since Mills’ departure, but Roseman is still Philadelphia’s prime decision-maker.
The Eagles have done well to retain their own secondary playmakers, somehow agreeing to terms on new contracts with James Bradberry and Darius Slay. But they’ve already lost the aforementioned Epps, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson continues to test free agency. Mills could provide the Eagles’ secondary with some much-needed depth at the safety position.
New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz continues to implement his defensive scheme in Cleveland. You know what helps DCs execute their schemes to perfection in new destinations? Players they possess familiarity with. Schwartz could pound the table for Mills.
Schwartz was Mills’ defensive coordinator for all five of his seasons in Philadelphia. The pair won a Super Bowl together. Mills has enjoyed the best seasons of his career under Schwartz’s tutelage, including a personal-best campaign in 2017 that saw Mills record career-highs in interceptions (3) and pass breakups (14). The Browns recently signed Juan Thornhill, but Mills could be an asset in three-safety looks while also providing depth at cornerback behind Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome II.
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