The Patriots are retaining both of their free agent cornerbacks.
One day after re-signing Jonathan Jones to a new two-year contract, New England on Tuesday placed a right-of-first-refusal tender on restricted free agent Myles Bryant, according to multiple reports.
That tender is a one-year, non-guaranteed, $2.627 million contract. If another team signs Bryant to an offer sheet this offseason, the Patriots would have the right to match that offer. But unlike with other varieties of RFA tenders, if the Patriots declined to match, they would not receive draft-pick compensation.
Since there are no guarantees in Bryant’s tenure, he can be released at any time with no financial penalty.
Bryant has been with the Patriots since signing as an undrafted free agent out of Washington in 2020, playing a variety of roles in New England’s secondary. The 25-year-old was the Patriots’ primary slot cornerback in 2022, appearing in all 17 games and playing a career-high 61% of defensive snaps. He finished with 70 tackles, one interception, six passes defended and one fumble recovery.
The undersized defensive back was a lightning rod for criticism from Patriots fans this season. Though he surrendered more than 40 receiving yards in just three games, opposing quarterbacks posted a passer rating of 102.3 when targeting Bryant in coverage, per Pro Football Focus. He also had a costly missed tackle on special teams in the Patriots’ Week 18 loss in Buffalo.
Standout rookie Marcus Jones looks like a strong candidate to take over top slot duties in Year 2, but Bryant’s versatility still makes him a solid depth piece for New England. He even could be part of the team’s plan to replace the recently retired Devin McCourty, as he does have experience at free safety.
Locking up their own players has been the Patriots’ primary focus thus far in free agency. As of midday Tuesday, they had re-signed or tendered seven internal free agents and made no external additions.