New England's first notable splash in free agency is retaining one of the more valuable in-house free agents that hit the market. Minutes after the start of the legal tampering period rang in across the NFL, the Patriots agreed to re-sign cornerback Jonathan Jones on a two-year deal, according to NFL Media. The deal is worth $20 million with $13 million guaranteed. 

This was the preferred outcome for Jones, who was quite public leading up to the start of free agency about his desire to remain with the Patriots.

"That's the desire, to be back here," Jones recently told the Boston Herald. "It's what I know, it's what I love -- it's New England. It's hard to say no to New England."

Jones has been with the Patriots since he entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Auburn in 2016, and he has blossomed into a key contributor in the secondary. The two-time Super Bowl champion started all 16 of his games played last season and enjoyed a career year. He totaled a career-best 11 pass breakups and four interceptions to go along with 69 tackles. When targeted, Jones allowed just a 52.7 completion percentage, and opposing quarterbacks averaged a passer rating of just 73.0 against him. 

That career year came as Jones was asked to play outside corner in 2022 after primarily rising through the ranks in the secondary as a slot corner. With Jones now intact for the next few seasons, it will be fascinating to see if the team continues to utilize his versatility in the secondary, specifically playing him at the free safety position at times. In the wake of Devin McCourty's retirement, there is a need in that area of the secondary. 

If he remains an outside corner, he'll be paired alongside an up-and-coming group in the secondary that includes 2022 draft picks Jack Jones and Marcus Jones