Mike Onwenu might be one of the best overall offensive linemen in the entire NFL, and it would be in the Patriots' best interest to keep him around for the long-term. Folks, if the Patriots want to keep Onwenu around, he won't be cheap, and there is no reason why he should take any sort of discount to stay with the team.
Onwenu was a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots back in the 2020 NFL Draft and has been within the starting lineup ever since then. Onwenu has played both guard spots and right tackle, and he's done it at an elite level, which is rare in today's NFL. The Patriots' moved him to the right side of the offensive line, and as expected, he held his own at right tackle.
It makes no sense for the Pats to play him at any other position but RT barring injuries. Well, he's also set to hit the open market in 2024, but it would make sense for the Patriots to extend the young player. What would an extension look like for Onwenu?
Now, this could get tricky, because Onwenu has played more guard than tackle, and give his 6'3", 350lb frame, he may be able to play the guard spot better than tackle. However, in my opinion, I think the best long-term move for the team is to keep him at right tackle. Why? Well, to me it's simple:
It's a lot easier to find stable guard play in the NFL than it is finding stable right tackle play. There are more talented guards in the NFL than tackles, so if Onwenu can play right tackle, he should stay there and be paid like one.
The Patriots aren't really known for handing out big contracts for their in-house guys or even in free agency. As of late, the Pats have spent a bit in free agency, and with them projected to have a ton of cap space in 2024, they should not shy away about spending a load of it on Onwenu.
The richest right tackle contract belongs to Ryan Ramcyzk of the New Orleans Saints. His pact is worth $96 million. The highest average annual value among RTs goes to Lane Johnson, who makes $20.187 million per year. Onwenu is obviously not at the level of those players, but he's very good.
I think if he's going to be paid as a right tackle, he'd probably fall somewhere near the 10th richest in terms of AAV. I have nothing to base that on. It's just a prediction on my end. If I said Onwenu signed a deal worth $15 million per year, would that sound about right? That's a very nice payday for both guards and tackles, whose numbers aren't far off in terms of contracts.
$15 million per year would rank 5th among left guards, 4th among right guards, and tied for 10th among right tackles. In both instances-- both positions, he's paid among the highest in the NFL, so maybe that gives him the mental satisfaction and relief for all of his exceptional play in New England. I think a five year deal is likely, as OL usually have longer shelf lives in the NFL, and Onwenu is still in his mid-20s.
If the New England Patriots offered Mike Onwenu a five-year, $75 million deal, do you think that'd be fair compensation for the player?