Patriots Veteran Ranked as Team’s No. 1 Player

Getty Matthew Judon

Is quarterback Mac Jones the New England Patriots’ No. 1 player? Not according to WEEI’s Andy Hart.

In a Patriots player-ranking piece listing each guy from best to worst, Jones finished seventh on the list. Who was No. 1? Veteran pass rusher Matthew Judon. In a brief explanation for Judon’s lofty spot on the list, Hart wrote:

“He was a Pro Bowler in Baltimore and he’s a Pro Bowler in New England.”

There are no lies detected in Hart’s statement. Judon made the Pro Bowl in 2021 after his first season in New England. The 29-year-old made his third straight Pro Bowl and set a career-high with 12.5 sacks.

His 14 approximate value rating was also the highest in his NFL career. Judon is again expected to power the Patriots’ defense in 2022, though there figures to be a number of new faces on the unit with him.

As of now, it appears as though Dont’a Hightower will not be returning. He could be replaced by Raekwon McMillan or even Cameron McGrone at middle linebacker. The Patriots brought back Jamie Collins in 2021, but he too isn’t on the Patriots roster currently.

New England traded Chase Winovich to the Cleveland Browns for Mack Wilson, who will also figure into the linebacker situation. While more athletic, the Patriots’ linebacker corps will be younger and less experienced.

How that affects the overall quality of the unit remains to be seen.

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The other players ranked ahead of Jones in Hart’s ranking were Nick Folk, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Christian Barrmore and Trent Brown.

New England Has 2 of the Best-Value Contracts in the NFL

Judon isn’t just one of the Patriots’ best players, he is perhaps the biggest bargain. According to Pro Football Focus, Judon and Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne have the 20th and 17th best-valued contracts in the NFL.

Judon produced in a major way for the Patriots in 2021, and he won’t be 30 until August. This suggests he still has enough time to remain productive throughout the life of his four year, $54.5 million deal. Judon currently has three years and $34.5 million remaining on his deal.

Bourne didn’t have a year quite as impacting as Judon, but his contract is much more modest. Bourne’s 55 receptions for 800 yards and 5 TDs in 2021 made his three-year, $15 million deal worth every penny.

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Bourne has just two years and $9.75 million left on his contract. If he continues to perform the way he did in 2021, he’ll be well worth the investment.

Patriots Revise David Andrews’ Contract

New England is still angling to create more cap space and their most-recent move to add flexibility came on June 26. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots saved $2.1 million in cap space by restructuring the deal of veteran center David Andrews.

The deal preceded the signing of multiple draft picks including third-string quarterback Bailey Zappe and speedy wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. As we move closer to training camp and then preseason, it is possible more cost-conscious moves could be made, including trades of well-known veterans.

Stay tuned.

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