Despite the long list of talented players that Bill Belichick signed during the infamous 2021 spending spree, Matthew Judon was and still is the best free agent signing of the last several years.
Since the team has become a defensive-dominated team, the former Raven has become a leading force in their new identity. Not only has he continued to impress with his performances, which has earned him two more Pro Bowl honors, but he has also been an invaluable leader in the locker room and mentor to the young talent around him.
Judon is the definition of what any coach in the league would love to covet for their team; from his consistency on the field to his dedication to improving his own work and helping his teammates, he's solidified his legend status in New England in more ways than one.
Since arriving in Foxboro two years ago, he's already broken a few franchise or season records. He added another one with his performance against the New York Jets on Sunday,
With the 2023 season relying a lot on the help of the defense to keep the Patriots in games, Judon has been a leading cause of destruction for opposing offenses. He's recorded at least one sack through three games so far, notching two on Zach Wilson last week, and even added just the second safety of his career to his resume when he took the quarterback down in the end zone in what would be a game-saving score late in the fourth quarter.
That performance permanently places him in Patriots history, as he just passed Tedy Bruschi to secure the 10th position on the all-time list of most sacks with 32 and he did so in just 37 games.
To put that into perspective, Bruschi is one of the most beloved and legendary Patriots during the dynasty years, if not ever. He totaled 30.5 sacks through 189 games. A bit further up the list is Chandler Jones, who totaled 36 sacks during his time in New England and accomplished that through 55 games.
Judon is just four sacks away from passing that, with an 18-game difference right now. We could see him pass even more incredible players on the list depending on how long he remains a Patriot.
1. Andre Tippett
2. Willie McGinest
3. Mike Slade
4. Mike Vrabel
5. Rob Ninkovich
6. Brent Williams
7. Richard Seymour
8. Chandler Jones
9. Garin Veris
10. Matthew Judon
To top off what he's accomplished through just the first three weeks so far, Judon is also among the league's best as he's tied for second in tackles for a loss, tied for fourth in sacks and quarterback hits.
With a tough schedule ahead, it'll be imperative that he can keep the momentum going and ensure the defense instills fear in those future opponents, especially if the offense remains questionable the rest of the year. If history has taught us anything, it's proven Judon will be exactly that, and it will be so fun to watch. And hopefully, he will be around for a long time to continue climbing the ranks of Patriots' all-time history.