1. DB Jalen Mills
Since he tweeted about playing just 10 defensive snaps against the New Orleans Saints in Week 5, Mills has played 20 and 21 snaps in the last two games for the Patriots and he started in Week 7. However oddly given the injuries in the Patriots' secondary, he has played less than 15 snaps three times this season and never more than 26 snaps in any game. The phasing out of him, and that's what is appropriate to call it, is weird.
In a vacuum, Mills has versatility that carries value to any secondary. He can play safety and cornerback capably. After the Patriots cut him two years into a four-year, $24 million deal last offseason, he quickly re-signed on a one-year, $2.5 million deal that's worth up to $6.1 million. That extra $3.6 million max, is tied to playing time (via Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team).
- 42% of defensive snaps – $600,000
- 50% of defensive snaps – $600,000
- 60% of defensive snaps – $600,000
- 70% of defensive snaps – $600,000
- 80% of defensive snaps – $600,000
- 90% of defensive snaps – $600,000
Mills has played 26 percent of New England's defensive snaps this season. Without a serious uptick moving forward, he won't collect even one of these $600,000 incentives. His production hasn't been great, but he also hasn't played a lot. It's hard to accuse anyone of playing games to cost someone money. But if someone was going to do it it would be Belichick, since he's keenly aware of everything.
Albert Breer succinctly mentioned Mills as another Patriots' player to watch heading to the trade deadline.
"Jalen Mills would be one other name to watch."
The Lions need a little help in the secondary. Mills' tweet about lack of playing time might not sit well with Dan Campbell, but he wasn't outwardly critical with it as much as it was a comment to a post about Week 5 snap counts for the Patriots. The tweet, if nothing else. showed a disconnect between Mills and the coaching staff.
Since they have little use for him, the Patriots would probably part with Mills for a draft pick that has some kind of playing time conditions on it. In any case, the Lions should have some interest.