6 important Patriots entering their last season in New England

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Among the many storylines for the Patriots this upcoming season is the number of players expected to hit free agency next offseason, particularly more than a handful who have become integral parts of their success over the last few years.

Most of the most crucial players to keep will be on the defense, which has been the better part of the team and is expected to continue reigning supreme in 2024. Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf need to prioritize extending many of these players as soon as possible or risk losing them and resetting their dominant defense.

Based on how the new regime has already handled free agency and the draft this year, it's fair to assume they're more inclined to get these extensions done than Bill Belichick would have, which is certainly a relief.

At least six players should be given the utmost importance in re-signing, as losing them would be a critical hit to the team's potential in the years ahead.

6 important Patriots entering their last season in New England

Davon Godchaux

One of the more underrated and underappreciated players on the Patriots' defense is Davon Godchaux. Perhaps it's because he plays a position that doesn't get much attention from analysts or fans, but he's been as solid as they come since signing with the team three years ago.

One of the best things about the nose tackle has been his reliability. He hasn't missed a single game since his arrival and has become an anchor of the defense because of that.

Godchaux came to the team at the right time and has thrived as the team's leading run defender, a weak part of the team in the years leading to his signing. His natural ability to do his job the right way and at a high level often goes unnoticed despite his performances, creating opportunities for his teammates to make plays.

He has consistently played at a high level, even if the stat sheet doesn't seem to back that up. But what he does on the field, essentially becoming an offensive lineman's worst nightmare due to being an immovable defender, makes him even more critical for the roster.

If the Patriots intend to keep a high-performing defense, retaining Godchaux should be a priority. It's not easy to find a high-caliber nose tackle in the league, so when you have one that often plays similarly to a Patriots legend, you should keep him around.