For varying reasons, there could be a few big-name players who may not be with the New England Patriots when the 2024 NFL season begins. The worst-case scenario for the team is they bottom out, win less games than they did last year and proceed to blow the whole operation up.
The best-case scenario is this team doing enough in the regular season to clinch a Wild Card spot. They'd have reason to continue building on their 2023 success in future seasons, and some of of the internal drama would probably subside.
Well, if all goes horribly, you'd best expect that significant roster changes would be on the horizon. Whether it be via trade, a player leaving in free agency, or a roster cut, there could be a few big-name Patriots who might not be with the team in the 2024 season.
Three big-name Patriots who might not be with the team in 2024
1. Mike Onwenu, G/T
If the New England Patriots do not have Mike Onwenu on the roster in 2024, they've made a huge mistake. Onwenu is one of the premier guards in football and also played excellent at tackle earlier in his career. He may truly be the best all-around lineman in the entire NFL.
He's also entering the last year of his rookie deal and has earned a massive extension. Well, would the Patriots really invest a deal perhaps worth more than $15 million a season for Onwenu? They did draft three interior offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL Draft, so perhaps that is a sign that they are not expecting Onwenu to be with the team.
If the Patriots are out of the playoff race by the time the trade deadline comes around, their best course of action then might be to trade Onwenu, so at least they get something for him.
2. Matthew Judon, EDGE
Matthew Judon has been one of the most prolific sack-masters in the NFL since signing with the New England Patriots before the 2021 NFL season. However, he's 31 years old when the 2023 season begins and is under contract for just two more seasons.
His cap number is also at its highest during the 2023 and 2024 seasons. What if Judon does take a step back this year? What if it's clear that he's lost a step? The Patriots might want to part with him in that case. They did draft Keion White in the 2023 NFL Draft, so they do have a promising young EDGE rusher in the wings.
With Josh Uche having a breakout third season and being a young player himself, it's not out of the realm of possibility to suggest that Uche and White are the two starting EDGE rushers in 2024. Judon could get dealt in the offseason, or perhaps at the trade deadline if the Patriots are out of the playoff race.
Again, that would be smarter to do than just cutting him, because I'm sure a contending team wouldn't mind having Judon as a pass rush threat.
3. Mac Jones, QB
Perhaps the most recognizable player on the roster is Mac Jones, a flawed QB who likely does not have a great relationship with his own head coach. His regression in year two and him seeking help from outside the organization seemed to rub Bill Belichick the wrong way.
Additions of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mike Gesicki, and Bill O'Brien are viable additions to help Jones improve in year three, but there's no guarantee. If Jones is not good enough and the Patriots miss the playoffs, I'd expect the Pats to deal the QB for whatever they could get.
Since he is a QB and still young, there would certainly be a team who'd be willing to give up a draft pick for his services. Mac Jones is not someone who is going to will a team to victory, and I think his peak in the NFL would put him in the same tier with passers like Kirk Cousins, Derek Carr, and Ryan Tannehill.