6 important Patriots entering their last season in New England

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Matthew Judon

Of a list compiled of important players expected to hit free agency in 2025, Matthew Judon might be the single most important player to have helped lead their defense to high success over the last three years, which might be the most significant reason to sign him to an extension.

Judon was signed during Bill Belichick's spending spree during the 2021 offseason and quickly became one of his career's best free agent signings. He was an exciting addition and was expected to be a big part of the effort to improve the pass rush, but he has gone on to do that and then some, including earning a spot in the Patriots' history books.

Although his contributions to the team were more than evident, seeing the pass rush fall apart in Judon's absence after his season-ending injury last year stressed his importance to the defense.

It's a big reason why the Patriots would be foolish not to retain him for the foreseeable future, even more so since he's already stated he would like to retire with the team.

Besides his in-game performances, he's also been an important mentor to the younger players around him, which we saw the results of with Joshua Uche during the 2022 season. It's not easy to find players with a natural ability to lead, so Judon fitting that role makes him invaluable for the team.

It would be ideal to negotiate an extension before the 2024 season begins. Judon held out during the summer last year until his contract was reworked. Money was taken from his salary this year to pay him for the 2023 season, so he will likely hold out again during the next few months.

There's no reason for the Patriots to even entertain letting him walk. Judon has become the face of the defense, and it would be an utter disaster not to keep him around long-term.