Fate of Matthew Judon shouldn't be a difficult decision for the Patriots

Exploring a distasteful idea that may be necessary
Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

There is talk in the media about the Patriots' edge, best pass rusher, and best player, Matt Judon maybe wanting out of New England. It's not a great thought to entertain, but if the player and team are at a contract impasse, who knows what could happen? Regardless, players are sometimes unhappy, and if he decides to force a trade, it is what it is.

Should they face that dilemma, let's explore the pros and cons of such a deal for the New England Patriots. First, let's tackle the daunting task of finding some actual positives in trading Matt Judon, if any. Then, we'll look at why it's a lousy idea.

It isn't an easy task to try to determine what's good about trading your best player. But it happens in all sports, including the NFL, and occasionally, you have to make the best of a bad situation. Nevertheless, if that has to happen, there may be a couple of brighter spots. Maybe.

Fate of Matthew Judon shouldn't be a difficult decision for the Patriots

The plus sides of a Matthew Judon deal

The first issue has to do with the wear and tear and the player's health situation. Judon is entering his ninth season and will be 32 in August. The wear and tear that eight seasons in the NFL takes on a player is a real consideration in contract negotiations. It's an issue that rational NFL executives have to consider.

Judon is also coming off a season-ending serious biceps injury. That's never a good thing. As a result, he missed 13 games in 2023. It will be incumbent on the team and its staff to do due diligence in ensuring that if a deal is done, he's fit to play. If he's not, they can shy away.

Another plus is the potential return any trade might glean. Forget about future draft picks. If Judon is healthy and is traded, the deal had better bring an immediate return of a top-flight player in one of the Pats' top two needs, left tackle and No. 1 wide receiver.

Baltimore is a team being floated as a possible destination. The player to get in return is the Ravens' left tackle, 30-year-old Ronnie Stanley. This can't be a give-away deal. The Pats desperately need a left tackle, and the Ravens will be getting back a star pass-rusher. It's what goods trades should be made of.

Alternatively, a WR1 like 49ers' Brandon Aiyuk or maybe the Bengals' Tee Higgins is also the level of player required. The key is that any trade has to fill one of those two positions or no dice. Those are the possible pluses, such as they are.

The negatives of a Matt Judon trade

The negatives in trading Matt Judon are much easier to note. He's the Pats' best player. The team lost the super pass-rusher to injury in game four last season, yet still managed to field a very good defense. That shouldn't cloud anyone's opinion. If he's healthy and returns, that very good defense may be great.

Judon is the Patriots' best pass-rusher in decades. He's also the key to your defense, along with Christian Barmore. You have to go back to Andre Tippett to find A Patriots' pass-rusher on his level (or a bit better). A few additional top seasons in New England, and he's a lock Patriots' Hall-of-Famer.

Additionally, Matt Judon is a great guy, an inspirational leader, and a fan favorite. If you fail to pay a player of that ilk, it's at the risk of your job if you run the Patriots' personnel operation. Eliot Wolf has a decision to make. He needs to get it right.

While a return for a player, as suggested, would ease the pain, Judon is simply a special player and person. If you don't pay that level of player (assuming he's fit), who do you pay? It's a rhetorical question. You just pay the player and not repeat the foolish decision by Wolf's predecessor, Bill Belichick, to allow Tom Brady to leave Foxborough.

Should Judon demand a long-term contract with top guaranteed money, it could present a difficult decision for the New Patriots' personnel hierarchy. If healthy, the 2022 Matt Judon is a Pro-Bowl level player on a team that is almost devoid of that level of talent. Trading him is a terrible idea.

The answer is to sit down with the player and work out a deal that satisfies both parties. The key to the 2024 Patriots is their defense. If it's top-notch (and they start Drake Maye on offense), they have a chance. Judon makes that excellent defense a lot better. The easy and best answer is simple: sign him up for an extension and get ready for summer camp.

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