The 5 most important players on the New England Patriots for the 2023 season

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Matthew Judon

As the most consistently productive players on the team, Matthew Judon's leadership and performance can make or break the defense in any game.

Since signing with New England in 2021, he quickly assimilated into the Patriots' way of doing things. His domination on the field finally filled the massive gap left by Chandler Jones, who Belichick unfavorably traded to the Cardinals in 2016.

Jones had been the most productive defensive player for the Patriots since he was drafted. After his departure, the team struggled to find a player capable of replacing the impact he consistently made in every game.

Five years later, they finally got it right by signing Judon to a massive four-year, $54,500,000 contract that now seems like the steal of the century.

His first year in New England put the defense back on the map, totaling 60 combined tackles, 25 quarterback hits, 14 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks. Unbeknownst to everyone, Judon would build upon that the following year.

During the 2022 season, he added three more quarterback hits, totaling 28 for the year, and three more sacks from the previous season to total 15.5 by years end, just three sacks shy of passing the Patriots' all-time sack record set by Andre Tippett in 1984.

But with all of the greatness he has brought during his tenure in Foxboro, a noticeable dip in performance has occurred in the final few games of both seasons. Whether it's exhaustion or just a coincidence, it will definitely be something Judon will need to improve to remain consistent for the defense for the entirety of the season.

Plus, with the additions of rookies Keion White and Marte Mapu, Judon's mentorship will be even more invaluable to help elevate and mold the future of the defense.