5 Patriots who could be playing their final three games with New England

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Josh Uche

A player who will probably not be on the team next year for a completely different reason than Chad Ryland is linebacker Josh Uche. It won't be due to poor performance but instead due to his decision to explore free agency and sign elsewhere.

It had been reported that Bill Belichick shopped Uche before the trade deadline earlier this season, and a deal was nearly agreed upon. It is alleged it didn't pan out due to the Patriots wanting more in return for Uche and were unwilling to lower their asking price to make it happen in time.

Then recent rumors indicate Uche is unhappy with his role in the current defense, even more so in Matthew Judon's absence. He was expected to become the go-to guy with the four-time Pro Bowler's probable season-ending injury, but that has not been the case thus far.

After completing a career-best season last year, recording 27 total tackles, nine tackles for a loss, 14 quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries, and 11.5 sacks, there was optimism that Belichick had finally found the perfect player to pair up with Judon and wreak havoc on quarterbacks across the league.

It's possible that could have still happened had the team not accrued a ridiculous amount of injuries this season, but the drastic decline in Uche's production has likely raised some concerns for the team heading into the offseason.

That could be why Belichick (or whoever the GM may be) would hesitate to re-sign him, but believing he could benefit in a different defensive system will probably be the leading reason for Uche to test the market and hope to sign with another team for 2024.