Tom E. Curran

For Pats, the timing of Jack Jones' arrest couldn't be worse

The second-year cornerback was arrested for attempting to bring two firearms on a flight.

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One of the main messages every team impresses on its players at the end of minicamp is: “Don’t do anything stupid over the next 35 days.”

Jack Jones didn’t even make it through security at Logan before he failed.

Almost a decade TO THE DAY since police searched the home of Aaron Hernandez in connection with the murder of Odin Lloyd, Jones was arrested for possession of a concealed weapon in a secure area of the airport, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, unlawful possession of a firearm, carrying a loaded firearm and possession of a large-capacity feeding device. Two counts each.

The pain and embarrassment the franchise experienced during the entire Hernandez situation – dwarfed, of course, by the pain felt by the loved ones of Lloyd and the two other men Hernandez stood trial for murdering – may not be something current players can even comprehend. But Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo and Matt Slater – who were on the team at the time – certainly do.

Guns in your luggage isn’t murder. But loaded guns with large capacity feeding devices casually being transported by a Patriots player will not draw a, “Well, he’s just a kid…” reaction from Kraft, Belichick or the league.

Clearly, the message that every player is representing the Patriots as a whole, including (especially?) ownership, either wasn’t delivered strongly enough or didn’t penetrate a single bit in Jones’ case.

The fact Jones came to the team with off-field baggage that dropped him to the fourth round coupled with a late-season suspension by the team last year could mean he’s not getting a mulligan.

After Jones was drafted, he was asked about his 2018 arrest for robbing a Panda Express. (He was charged with a felony but it was later reduced to a second-degree misdemeanor commercial burglary charge.)

“Thank you, but I’m going to focus on my job,” Jones said. “And I’m going to control what I can control. going forward, I’m looking to be the best teammate I can be and help the Patriots out any way that I can.”

Pressed about the arrest, Jones added: “I learned from it, I’m looking forward to moving forward. I’m not really worried about the past, working on my present right now, what I have going on. Control what I can control.”

At least he had the talking points down.

The on-field ramifications for the Patriots – who closed minicamp with a team paintball outing on Wednesday – are going to be significant if Jones is suspended and/or released by the team.

He’s a good player. He and rookie Christian Gonzalez figured to be the starting outside corners for what projects to be a very good defense. The Patriots have depth in the secondary but they are short on length and moving on from Jones would likely move Jonathan Jones outside and away from slot corner where he excels. Losing Jack Jones hurts on the field. And it hurts off the field as well.

After last year’s 8-9 season, the Patriots badly needed positive momentum from March through June. But the clean slate the team professed it would be working on has already been cluttered by the Jones arrest, left tackle Trent Brown showing up late then barely taking part in the mandatory minicamp and a holdout by defensive tackle Lawrence Guy. The holdout isn’t a seismic development. But it doesn’t auger well when one of the team’s truly good guys is pissed enough to hold out. The team needs its Lawrence Guy guys.

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It would be interesting to know exactly how ownership feels about the Jones situation. Belichick had to sign off on a kid who had a history and – at least at some point – explain to Kraft why Jones would fit and not be a problem for Kraft’s franchise.

And Jones made a fool of him. And an incident like that doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are tentacles that extend.

For Kraft, Saturday morning probably brought back the sting of the Hernandez situation, the embarrassment of Antonio Brown and the realization that Jones’ arrest will now provide hours of negative media content between now and training camp.

All that combined with the string of bad drafts, a massive free-agent splurge in 2021 that yielded one high-impact player (Matt Judon), the post-Brady slide into mediocrity, the harebrained scheme to put Matt Patricia and Joe Judge in charge of the offense last year and Mac Jones' regression has to leave Kraft shaking his head.

I don’t know if this would be a good time for Belichick to ask for $15M to sign DeAndre Hopkins or a bad time. Regardless, this was a horrific way to start the break.

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