Patriots rumored extension talks with rising defensive star is great news

Finally, the Patriots are moving in at least one solid personnel direction.

Detroit Lions v New England Patriots
Detroit Lions v New England Patriots / Kathryn Riley/GettyImages

It's being reported that the New England Patriots are negotiating with a top young player
(currently on a four-year deal) who's not out of contract. It's Christian Barmore. Who would have thunk it? Bernd Buchmasser of Pats Pulpit reported on it this way,

"In fact, the Patriots and Barmore have already had talks about continuing their partnership beyond 2024. Head coach Jerod Mayo confirmed that much on Monday morning.

"'One thing with Barmore. He’s one of those players — he’s developed here,' Mayo said during the coaches’ breakfast at the NFL annual meeting in Orlando, FL."

It's a good take by Bernd and Pats Pulpit and an even better one for the New England Patriots. This was not an every day or maybe even an any-day occurrence during the general managership of Bill Belichick. Bill was willing just to let the contracts run their course no matter how good the players were and then sign them (or not) for what would then be more exorbitant money if they stayed.

This was one of several reasons why Belichick's tenure as General Manager, no matter what you might have thought of him as a Head Coach, was a flop. His post-Brady record speaks for itself, and one of the contributory reasons was his lack of personnel acumen. Let's explore the overall issue in a bit more detail.

Bill Belichick lost good players or subsequently overpaid for them

Non-first-round picks serve on four-year contracts and then, if not re-signed, become free agents. In many, if not most, cases, if a team allows those contracts to run down for some players, it makes perfect sense. In others, it makes no sense.

Two examples this offseason dramatize that point quite well, and they are just the latest in a series of such maladroit non-signings in the past. One is safety Kyle Dugger, who received the Transition Tag and a one-year salary of $13.81M if he remains with New England.

Alternatively, the Patriots can match any offer by another NFL team and retain his services at that level. What's wrong with this picture? The first problem is whether Dugger is worth even the $13.81M he'll be paid by New England if he remains. He's a good player, but is he worth that kind of salary? It's debatable.

But in the context of this discussion, the fact remains that as a good player (or very good if you feel that way), it was clear after his first two years. It usually is. If you don't get it done or at least demonstrate that you can, after two years (perhaps excepting a quarterback) in the NFL, it's not likely you ever will.

What should be/have been done in Dugger's and Mike Onwenu's situations?

First, a young player is interested in security for a whole host of reasons. After two years of solid performance, getting a real increase in salary with a good amount of guaranteed money is a great situation for a player who could get injured and never have that chance again. Might some reject the initiative? Maybe. But the supposition here is most would not if the deal is reasonable.

The importance of that security cannot be overstated. It also bonds that player to a team that has put its faith in him and wants to demonstrate it tangibly, aka in dollars. Yet, it's also great for the team. They get a player they now know can perform at what would almost certainly be a team-friendly deal (at least comparatively) and have locked him up for the prime years of his career.

In Dugger's case, they could have had the player for far less than he's making now for maybe two to three additional years. Dugger is 28 years old so that the Pats would have had him in his absolute prime for a very reasonable salary. Onwenu's case is eerily similar and maybe a worse example for the team

It was also crystally clear that Onwenu, his sixth-round pick status notwithstanding, was a solid to very good NFL player from the outset. But again, Belichick did not get him signed to an extension, ideally after his second year in the league. So here we are after his fourth year, and the Pats have now anteed up in style, paying him far more than would have had to and more really than he's worth to keep him at Foxborough.

Spotrac notes Onwenu's contract,

"Mike Onwenu signed a 3 year, $57,000,000 contract with the New England Patriots, including a $22,500,000 signing bonus, $36,500,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $19,000,000."

This is far more than they'd have paid two years ago, and frankly, it's too rich for a right tackle/guard. That notwithstanding, so what about Barmore? Barmore is a Pro-Bowler or better in waiting. He's a top player, assuming his balky knee is sound. Seeing the Patriots reportedly looking to sign him up now is, frankly, a bit of a shock!

It's a sea-change from the non-actions of the past and reflects well on de facto general manager, Eliot Wolf and Head Coach, Jerod Mayo. It may be a year late, but it's better than a year too late. Hats off to Wolf and Mayo for getting it right here (free agency, well, that's another matter). Get Barmore signed and keep on doing the same with your best young players. It makes perfect sense.

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