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New Brunswick

Jonathan Jones in for busy offseason between free agency, fixing a dam and learning to fly

Less than 48 hours after losing to the Buffalo Bills, the soon-to-be free agent finds himself on a gray patterned couch on the campus of Saint John Paul II Catholic Academy in Lower Mills, Boston.

The result of that game eliminated the Patriots from playoff contention. Jones was in the news when Stefon Diggs came up with a tip-your-cap touchdown pass from Josh Allen that all but sealed the deal, and it could very well end his seven-year tenure at New England.

But for anyone in that library who didn’t know, it would have been hard to tell as he read Giant Steps to Change the World to a group of the school’s youngest students, asking questions of his actual audience after each page.

“Some days your dreams seem too far away to achieve,” Jones read from the first few lines. “Listen to the whispers of those who came before you… who had rough days but dared to make their dream come true.”

This visit was a collaboration with his Next Step Foundation and iRobot, who came together to donate a STEM lab to the school. He will make a similar visit to another local school in the spring. His daughter Skylar’s love of science and sports inspires much of his public relations work, but his own underdog story bears similarities to those he reads about in Spike and Tonya Lee’s children’s book.

“Everyone has obstacles,” said the 2016 undrafted Patriots free agent, who has expressed passion and work ethic in seven seasons in the NFL so far. “I’ve had my fair share of obstacles and so have these kids, but if you keep fighting through adversity, there’s a chance for you.”

The cliché carries more weight when it comes to an NFL prospect who, despite his speed, fell off the predictions because of being undersized. After a season-ending shoulder injury and the back-to-back departures of corner JC Jackson and Stephon Gilmore, not many expected him to fill in on the outside as some of the league’s top receivers would join the division.

However, Jones is up to any challenge. Not just a switch out of the slot.

His latest, he reveals to the class, has to do with a river dam on the Georgia property he bought last offseason. A young student had just announced that her father is an engineer and is looking for advice. Jones went to Auburn to study business administration, but if football and track and field had allowed, he probably would have pursued a similar career.

This property development company came up when the Carrollton native was looking for some land to take his four wheels out on. It became a much bigger endeavor when he saw the potential of a 65-acre property with two lakes, cabins and a church.

For the HGTV fan known for casually browsing Zillow and abruptly moving to a new home for no other reason than a desire to experience other areas and architecture, this is an unsurprising advancement – albeit its last His great-grandmother’s building project with his father was a new porch. For much of his years in the league, he would change addresses before and after each offseason rather than return home.

“HGTV is always on in the house,” Jones said. “I love to just sit back and watch. I love seeing the changes that someone begins and ends with, and it’s always great to see people’s ideas come to fruition.”

His vision for this Douglas County property includes rental cabins along the lake and the conversion of the old church into a massive function space. By the end of this off-season, he hopes to have a few animals on the farm.

“My mind just started running with the idea,” Jones said. “I started to see barndominiums emerging as the new: large open plan venues and living spaces. It was something I saw as an investment and a build up for people to use. When I saw the cabins along the lake I just thought of this idea of ​​making it a large estate where your family could move in, rent out the cabins and if you look at the trends, especially in our generation, get married not so many people in churches – it’s those cute, creative little getaways that everyone wants for their wedding. I took those ideas and ran with them.”

The project, as he learns, is not for the faint of heart, but he wants to be as hands-on with it as possible.

Jones watched his grandfather run a construction company and helped his handyman father with renovations around their home growing up. Parts of that jack-of-all-trades personality were certainly inherited from them, but as he tries to replicate the students sitting in front of him, the confidence to take on anything came from his mother.

“I’ve always enjoyed school, and looking back, that was all my mom,” Jones said. “She didn’t care if I played football. She didn’t care if I ran the track. She made sure my report card got an A – that’s it. She pushed me and that made football, college and every step so much easier.”

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