Patriots already had a massive win in free agency

Patriots Re-sign their most important free agent

Dec 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots guard Mike Onwenu (71) lines up
Dec 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots guard Mike Onwenu (71) lines up / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Monday was the first day of the NFL legal tampering period, which happens before free agency officially opens on March 13.

The Patriots started slow, leaving the fans disappointed. That disappointment ended Monday evening when the Patriots announced they were resigning free-agent offensive lineman Mike Onwenu. A three-year $57 million contract. With $38 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $22.5 million.

Both sides were allowed to agree on terms during the legal tampering because Onwenu was representing himself. Free agents who represent themselves do not have to wait until the tampering timeframe is complete. Free agent players represented by agents need to wait until free agency officially begins at 4 pm on March 13 before signing a new contract.

This contract brings back the team’s most important free agent and a player viewed as the top offensive lineman available in free agency. Onwenu is agile, physical, and versatile, able to play guard and tackle.

The Patriots drafted Owenu in the 6th round of the 2020 NFL draft. He played college football at the University of Michigan, where he started as a freshman, was a four-time letterwinner, and was named to the all-Big Ten team twice.

This signing was huge for several reasons. Not only did the Patriots have one of the worst offensive lines in the league in 2023, with Onwenu being one of the only positives. They also still need a left tackle with the departure of Trent Brown. Singing Onwenu allows the team to focus their remaining offensive line needs on the left tackle position before the draft.

On Tuesday, Dallas Cowboys free agent offensive tackle Tyron Smith and Cincinnati Bengals free agent offensive tackle Jonah Williams were both still available. Williams played tackle on the right side last season after the Bengals signed Orlando Brown and played left tackle his first few seasons in the NFL.

If the Patriots can sign one of those two, it would complete their offensive line going into the draft. The team could still draft offensive line help, but they would not need to find someone who can start on day one.

What the Patriots do for the remainder of free agency will determine what path they need to take in the April NFL draft.

The Patriots still have enough cap space money left to address other needs in free agency. The next move Patriots fans hope to hear about is the signing of a top wide receiver.

Their offense is far from being fixed with needs at quarterback and receiver. Singing Onwenu provided the franchise with a big win on Monday.

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