Bill Belichick needs to make an exception and pay Matthew Judon what he's worth

Matthew Judon is looking for a new contract and Bill Belichick needs to give it to him.
Matthew Judon needs a new contract
Matthew Judon needs a new contract / Adam Glanzman/GettyImages

It’s hard to retire as a New England Patriot. If you love the game of football, it’s not hard to play here. In fact, you will likely excel in New England if you love the game.

The reason it’s hard to retire here is that no other franchise runs more like an emotionless business than the Patriots, and none is more cold-hearted than the general manager and head coach, Bill Belichick.

It’s not a knock on him in any way; Bill would wear the title of “emotionless businessman” as a badge of honor. It’s how you need to do things to have 20+ years of consistent success in the NFL.

In New England, you aren’t paid for what you did in the past, how much the fans like you, or how much you like playing here. You are paid based on what you are projected to do over the life of the contract.

The Patriots are unique in that way, as no other franchise in the four major sports takes a similar approach to negotiations. It’s one of the reasons the Patriots don’t have a roster full of bad contracts. It’s more likely than not that a player will outperform his deals cap number by his third year on the deal.

This is where Matthew Judon comes in.

When he signed his 4-year, $54.5 million deal in the spring of 2021, the annual average value (AAV) of $13.6 million was among the league's best. Now in the third year of his deal, that AAV is ninth out of the top ten highest-paid edge rushers in the league.

He was only one of three players in that group to play all 17 games in 2022 and finished 2nd in quarterback hurries, 2nd in quarterback hits, and 3rd in quarterback sacks. Despite having the ninth-largest contract, Matthew Judon was the second or third-best edge rusher in 2022.

Judon has also said he loves playing for the Patriots, and under Bill Belichick, and would like to finish out his career here. He has become a fan favorite, especially after shutting up former Patriot and president of the “I hate Belichick” fan club, Asante Samuel.

He has been the quintessential Patriot on and off the field, but as I mentioned before, these contracts are not a popularity contest, and despite his excellence last season, Bill does not pay guys as a reward for good play.

The question is, does Bill think that Judon will continue to play at an elite level over the next 3-4 years?

I say the answer is yes, and therefore, Bill must back up the Brinks truck, open up the checkbook, or any other cliché saying to “pay that man his money.”

What would a new contract for Judon look like? How can we make him feel like an elite pass rusher and, at the same time, protect our future cap space?

It would probably be something like a new 4-year deal worth $100 million, with $50 million guaranteed. This would give Judon the third-highest AAV of any edge rusher and the third-highest guaranteed money for a deal. This should make him feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

You can also structure the plan to increase as the cap increases ($20 million in 2023, $25 million in 2024, $25 million in 2025, and $30 million in 2026).

If his production drops off in a year or two, you can cut him in year three while incurring a minimum cap hit. Even though he won’t get a cent of the fourth year, by that time, he will have collected $70 million, and the two sides can still part as friends, or renegotiate a friendlier deal, allowing Judon to retire a Patriot.