Absences at Patriots OTAs might have bigger implications for this season

Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Attendance at OTAs is always scrutinized, no matter the team or the players in question. It's become an especially hot topic in New England in recent years due to the alleged tension behind the scenes between players and Bill Belichick, or this offseason, the coaching changes.

The Patriots' voluntary practices began on Monday, and many headlines have already been created based on the events of the day.

Drake Maye made quite an impression alongside Javon Baker and Ja'Lynn Polk. Joe Milton III demonstrated exactly why he's called "Bazooka Joe." The former players turned newest coaches impressed in their early tenures; it was all quite a sight to see on day one.

But what is becoming a bigger conversation is the players who did not attend the first session of OTAs, despite it not being mandatory. Although players are expected to bypass the extra practices and shouldn't be considered a big deal, it's who decided to skip that is making a commotion.

Absences at Patriots OTAs might have bigger implications for this season

With a new regime in charge and excitement in the locker room about all the changes, there was some expectation that most players would attend OTAs. That wasn't the case on Monday, though, as some of the top defensive talent were absent.

Typically, it wouldn't be considered a big deal and at the end of the day, it's not really. But Davon Godchaux, Anfernee Jennings, Matthew Judon and Joshua Uche skipping the practices might have bigger implications for the season ahead.

Jennings and Uche just received new contracts, so their absence could just be a matter of skipping voluntary practices, which is allowed and totally fine.

Judon is in the final year of his contract with the Patriots and is set to make just $6.5 million for the 2024 season. He's made it very clear that he wants to retire with the team, and they tried to accommodate him by increasing his salary last season, but given the caliber of player he is, $6.5 million is incredibly low.

Fortunately, rumors suggest Eliot Wolf will prioritize locking Judon down with a contract extension. Hopefully, that's the immediate plan, and we won't see a holdout from the pass-rushing specialist.

Godchaux hasn't been in the extension conversation, which might be one reason he has chosen to miss OTAs. He's already made all the money from the contract extension he signed two years ago, so there's not a lot of motivation for him to put in the extra work.

Because both have become integral parts of the Patriots' defensive success, it's crucial they remain with the team moving forward. Mayo and Wolf will need to explore any and all options to ensure that happens, especially with Judon. Luckily, they have the cap space to make it happen if it has anything to do with money.

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