After completing a career season in 2022, despite the amount of hardships the team dealt with all season, the belief with Josh Uche was he was going to build upon that and become a great number two guy alongside Matthew Judon. Although that wasn't how his season began, when the four-time Pro Bowler went down with what ended up being a season-ending injury, it felt like the time for Uche to rise in the ranks and take over.
But that's far from what happened.
The dominant force we saw on the field a year prior was long gone, as Uche recorded just one sack, ten combined tackles, and three quarterback hits in 11 games during Judon's absence. It was not exactly what the team was hoping for, especially since the defense was the better side of the team, and it may have led to Bill Belichick exploring the possibility of trading him before the deadline.
Perhaps knowing that played a factor in Uche's regression because it was widely reported a deal was almost done for him to be shipped off to Detroit. However, if he was hoping to prove he didn't deserve to be traded and earned a spot on the team, his performance didn't demonstrate that at all.
He now enters free agency for the first time in his career, and because his longtime coach, Jerod Mayo, was promoted to succeed Belichick, we may see Uche back in a Patriots uniform next season. But the question arises if that's the right move, and recent history shows it may be a mistake.