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3 New England Patriots cornerback options after recent spat of injuries

Vincent Frank

The New England Patriots were already up against it at cornerback following the departure of star J.C. Jackson to the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency.

Head coach Bill Belichick and Co. are set to rely on rookies Jack Jones and Marcus Jones to make an impact this season.

That’s now been taken to a whole new level with New England announcing that fellow cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Joejuan Williams have been placed on injured reserve.

Brought back this past offseason after a five-year hiatus, New England was expecting for Butler to play a big role in 2022. That’s now not going to happen. As for Williams, he was a second-round pick of the Pats back in 2019 and hasn’t necessarily stood out. The Vanderbilt product has started just one game in three seasons.

Looking at New England’s depth chart right now, Terrance Mitchell and Jalen Mills are slated to start on the outside with Jonathan Jones in the slot and those two rookies manning the top backup spots.

If there wasn’t already a need to bring in a veteran cornerback or two in New England, we can bet that the Patriots’ brass is scouring through options following Tuesday’s news. Here’s a look at three cornerbacks who could make sense for the Patriots.

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Former Pro Bowler Joe Haden finally finds a home

new england patriots sign joe haden
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

At 33-years-old, this three-time Pro Bowler is well past his prime. Haden appeared in 12 games (11 starts) with the Pittburgh Steelers last season — yielding a 100.1 QB rating in the process. It was, by far, the worst performance of his heralded career. It’s also why Haden remains on the NFL free agent market with Week 1 just over three weeks away.

This doesn’t mean New England can’t use the type of experience that Haden might be able to bring to the table over the two Jones’ “brothers.” It was just back in 2021, that he gave up a 51% completion mark and 75.9 QB rating when targeted. The Pats could very well look to see if he has anything left in the tank.

Related: New England Patriots standing in Sportsnaut’s most-recent NFL power rankings

New England Patriots trade for Cameron Dantzler

new england patriots trade for cameron dantzler
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

It was this time last year that Dantzler found himself firmly on the Vikings’ roster bubble. The former third-round pick from Mississippi State had fallen out of favor with the previous regime and was the central focus in trade talks. Dantzler, 23, responded by putting up a heck of a performance in Minnesota.

Cameron Dantzler stats (2021): 53 tackles, 8 passes defended, 1 INT, 74.7 QB rating allowed

Dantzler has now taken that to a new level this summer, opening up eyes in the Twin Cities. Despite this, Minnesota exhausted a second-round pick on Andrew Booth in the 2022 NFL Draft. He could get snaps opposite veteran Patrick Peterson. Why not call the Vikings up to see if something can be worked out on this front?

Related: New England Patriots standing in Sportsnaut’s updated NFL defensive rankings

Richard Sherman comes out of retirement, helps New England Patriots

new england patriots sign richard sherman
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

While Sherman opting to give up his cushy television gig for another shot at football glory seems to be a long shot, he has not completely turned the page on his NFL career.

“No, no, I’m still leaving that door open as long as I can. I’m obviously going to keep training and staying in shape…But I’m going to leave that door open, if somebody wants to call late December, and needs some help, I’m happy to help.”

Richard Sherman on potential return to the NFL

To be clear, this would be a shot in the dark for New England. Sherman is 34 years old and has played in eight games over the past two seasons due to numerous injuries. He’s a shell of his former All-Pro self. Even then, it could make sense for a Pats squad that has taken chances on aging veterans in the past. It would certainly be a low-risk investment.