New England Patriots

New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Jonathan Jones react before the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones is on the verge of his first big payday.

According to Ian Rapoport, Jones and the Pats are closing in on a three-year extension. (Update: The deal is for three years and a base value of $21 million, including $13 million guaranteed.) The fourth-year pro out of Auburn is on the books for a restricted free-agent tender of $3.095 million in 2019 after originally signing as an undrafted rookie in 2016.

Jones earned his extension by developing into one of the Patriots’ most versatile players, contributing as both the primary nickel cornerback and a core special teamer. His finest hour as a Patriot came in January’s AFC Championship Game against the Chiefs, when he held All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill without a catch on two targets in the Patriots’ 37-31 win. Jones also played some safety in the Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

FOXBOROUGH, MA – DECEMBER 23: Jonathan Jones #31 of the New England Patriots reacts after Stephen Hauschka #4 of the Buffalo Bills (not pictured) missed a field goal during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Amid a crowded cornerback depth chart in training camp, Jones got off to a hot start and never looked back. He significantly outperformed younger and cheaper alternatives who are no longer on the roster on the way to securing his spot.

“He’s a good player. He does a really good job,” said head coach Bill Belichick when asked about Jones in August. “Of course he’s versatile, he does a lot of things. Smart, very competitive, tough. I’m glad we have him. He’s a good football player.”

Jones is likely to play a key role in the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. There’s a good chance he starts, considering the Steelers’ propensity to run three-receiver sets.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.