The Patriots have been busy spending this offseason, adding tight end Mike Gesicki and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in recent days. On Friday, they finally shed some money, releasing cornerback Jalen Mills two years into a $24 million deal, according to ESPN. Mills was one of the team's top free agent additions in 2021, but his departure instantly saves the club close to $5 million.
Originally signed to a four-year deal to start at cornerback opposite former All-Pro J.C. Jackson, the 28-year-old Mills missed seven games due to injury in 2022. He was discussed internally as a potential successor to retired safety Devin McCourty, according to NFL Media, but will now hit the market for the second time in three years.
When healthy, Mills was a serviceable cover man for New England, logging two interceptions and 12 pass deflections in 26 starts for Bill Belichick's defense. Prior to joining the Patriots, the former LSU standout spent five years with the Eagles. He finished his Philadelphia tenure at safety, replacing Malcolm Jenkins, but primarily served as an outside corner. His best season came in 2017, when he totaled a career-high three picks and 14 pass deflections as part of a Super Bowl-winning secondary.
Earlier in free agency, the Patriots re-signed Mills' fellow cornerback, Jonathan Jones, to a three-year deal. Jones is a candidate to start alongside Marcus Jones or Jack Jones, both of whom were drafted by New England last year.