This offseason, Jalen Mills’ future with the Patriots became a lot more uncertain than it was before.
Mills signed a four-year deal to join the Pats in 2021, but just two years later he was cut. Within a week, however, he was back in New England on a one-year contract.
That means both sides know and expect this to be a make-or-break year for Mills. He’s either going to earn another multi-year deal, or he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2024.
Mills was flat-out terrible in 2022, and it was no surprise to see him released initially. Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave him an overall grade of just 44.6, and he graded out poorly both against the run (53.5) and in coverage (42.7).
He gave up an average of 8.2 yards per target in the 46 targets he faced, and for context 8.2 yards per pass attempt would have ranked No. 2 among qualifying passers on the year. An average throw from Patrick Mahomes (8.1 Y/A) was slightly less efficient than the average throw at Mills from ANY quarterback. Yikes.
But Mills had been a solid veteran prior to that collapse, and a one-year deal with just $2.25 million guaranteed is the perfect “prove it” contract to gamble on potential bounce-back.
The Patriots prioritized addressing the secondary this offseason, drafting Christian Gonzalez in the first round, and Mills is a very expendable piece at this point. His potential future in New England will be all about whether he can bounce back and whether he accepts a team-friendly deal to stay here.