Patriots' draft indicates they may let star OL leave in free agency?

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

The New England Patriots took three interior offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft. Are they preparing for their best OL to depart in free agency next year? This would be a small disaster for the Patriots if this happens, in all likelihood.

In the 2020 NFL Draft, the team drafted Mike Onwenu out of Michigan in the sixth round. Onwenu proceeded to play in and start all 16 games at right tackle and earned a nod on the 2020 NFL All-Rookie Team.

Since then, Onwenu has made a name for himself in the offensive interior, being named to a 2nd team All-Pro by Pro Football Focus in 2022. Onwenu is a boulder of a player. He's 6'3" and weighs in at 350 pounds. During the NFL Combine, he put up 26 reps on the bench press, so he's incredibly strong.

Honestly, between his success at guard and tackle in his short NFL career, Onwenu might be one of the 15 best OL players in the entire league. However, he's entering the last year of his rookie deal and obviously has not signed an extension with the New England Patriots.

The Patriots also took a whopping three interior offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft. They took Jake Andrews out of Troy, Sidy Sow out of Eastern Michigan, Atonio Mafi out of UCLA. All three have experience playing along the offensive interior, and while some may conclude that these players will simply settle in as backups, what if the Pats are also preparing for Mike Onwenu to walk in free agency next year?

Potentially worse, are the Patriots even going to offer Onwenu a contract? The organization is not really known for retaining their own, and they typically do not spend a ton in free agency either. I can't help but notice their habits in the 2023 NFL Draft and have to wonder if the writing is on the wall.

The same could even be applied to stud center David Andrews. Could we see a virtually brand-new offensive interior in the next year or so?