Patriots Add Versatile Defensive Back Jalen Mills In NFL Free Agency

Mills was the Patriots' fourth signing of free agency

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A new face is joining the New England Patriots’ secondary.

The Patriots and free agent defensive back Jalen Mills agreed to terms Monday on a four-year, $24 million contract with $9 million guaranteed, Mills’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Instantly identifiable by his bright green hair, Mills spent his first five NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, who drafted him in the seventh round in 2016.

Listed as a 6-foot, 191-pound cornerback, the soon-to-be 27-year-old played all over Philly’s defensive backfield, logging 329 snaps in the box, 236 at free safety, 227 at wide corner, 182 at slot corner and 39 on the defensive line in 2020, per Pro Football Focus. The Patriots value versatility in their defensive players.

Mills missed a total of 15 games due to injury in 2018 and 2019 but was active for all but one contest in 2020, finishing with 74 tackles, one interception, three passes defended, 1 1/2 sacks, four tackles for loss and five quarterback hits. In coverage, he allowed 30 catches on 49 targets for 374 yards and two touchdowns with one pick, per PFF.

Mills expressed his excitement over the agreement on Twitter. He cannot officially sign until the NFL league year opens at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

The Patriots entered the offseason with questions at cornerback, as J.C. Jackson (restricted) and Jason McCourty (unrestricted) both are impending free agents and Stephon Gilmore could be traded. They’re well-stocked at safety, with Devin McCourty, Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips and slot/safety hybrids Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant all under contract and Patrick Chung expected back from his COVID-19 opt-out.

Mills was part of a tidal wave of Patriots free agent additions. In the first four hours after the NFL’s legal tampering period opened Monday, New England forged deals with tight end Jonnu Smith, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and edge rusher Matt Judon before scooping up Mills.

The Patriots also reached agreements on two trades involving offensive tackles last week — one that will bring Trent Brown back to New England and one that will send Marcus Cannon to the Houston Texans — and re-signed internal free agents Cam Newton and Justin Bethel.

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