Depending on how they perform in the 2023 season, the New England Patriots could hand out a few contract extensions to some of their own players. One of the best things a team can do to sustain success in the NFL is to draft well and retain those draft picks.
No matter who wins the Super Bowl, it's clear that each year, the winning team is built through the NFL Draft. The Patriots do have a good bit of solid, young talent on their roster, and even in the event of a rebuild, they could still sign a few of them to long-term extensions.
Who are three candidates to sign long-term extensions next offseason?
New England Patriots: Three players who could sign big extensions next offseason
1. Mike Onwenu, G
Mike Onwenu is quietly one of the best overall OL in the entire NFL. The former sixth-round pick has turned into one of the most elite guards in the NFL, at least according to PFF, who ranked him sixth among all guards heading into 2023:
"A sixth-round pick out of Michigan in 2020, Onwenu has spent time at both tackle and guard spots on the Patriots' offensive line in his three-year career so far. 2022 saw him spend the full season at right guard, though, and while his 79.3 PFF grade was the lowest of his career so far, it was still the fourth-best mark at the position last season."- Gordon McGuinness
It would be a mistake if the Pats let him leave in free agency, and he should be paid like one of the best in football.
2. Josh Uche, EDGE
In Josh Uche's third year in the NFL, he broke out alongside Matthew Judon. Uche had 11.5 sacks in 15 games, and the crazy part is, he didn't start a single game and had just 14 QB hits. Coming into the last year of his rookie deal, Uche could enjoy another double-digit sacks season.
Some may be a bit cautious with Uche since he's not yet a starter in the NFL and only had 14 QB hits in 15 games, but it's clear that he was able to finish the job once he hit the QB. The Patriots also took an EDGE rusher in the 2023 NFL Draft in Keion White, but I view him as a replacement for Judon.
Uche might be in line for a contract extension.
3. Mac Jones, QB
There is so much variation with Mac Jones heading into the 2023 season. Depending on how he plays, he could end up playing his way into an extension. If not, the team may move on from him altogether.
If he does play well, the team could buy themselves another year by exercising his fifth-year option, which would come due next offseason, but I also think if Jones plays well in 2023, he could leverage his situation into getting some type of deal from the team. He may want one to protect himself from injury and perhaps a potential decline in play.
If I was a betting man, I'd say that Mac Jones isn't getting a long-term deal next offseason, but many QBs have signed those deals after their third year in the NFL, so it's very common.