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Patriots Cap FA Day One By Making A Major Move Up Front

Foxborough, MA - Day 1 of free agency was wild across the league. The Patriots, however, had seemed to start free agency in their usual, somewhat vanilla fashion, retaining Bourne and Henry, releasing Parker, signing Okokafor and Gibson, among other smaller moves. However, they finished it massively, signing versatile OL Mike Onwenu back to a massive (both in value and importance) contract.

The Details

The three-year, $57M deal comes with a hefty $22.5M signing bonus - a big value, bigger than anything the Pats have ever paid an offensive lineman. However, at $19M/yr, it's a value that will start to look better and better over this and the next couple of offseasons as the value of tackles continues to increase.

The Patriots get some validation here in their decision to use their tag to put a transition tender on Kyle Dugger, as they get Onwenu for a value over a million dollars less than the offensive line franchise tag for 2024.

What Does Onwenu Bring?

As a Patriot, Mike has shown many of the valuable traits needed for an offensive lineman: power, good foot and hand placement, and quick reflexes. Arguably his strongest trait, though, is his football IQ and the anticipation that comes with it. He's able to read his matchup, which allows him to time and place his blocks better, as well as hold off his matchups for longer.

Simply put, both sacks and penalties are tough to come by when matching up against Onwenu, and he was never an issue when it came to pass protection or run blocking for New England. His versatility is a significant strength, as he has flourished both as a guard and tackle, and while his primary role will be that of a tackle, the option to also use him as an insurance guard will be very handy for the Patriots.

Tackle has been a rough position for the Patriots over the last 3 years, but some of the only good, consistent tackle play in that time came from Onwenu, and having him back brings stability to that position. In addition to the Okokafor signing, this move helps the Patriots to be able to deprioritize tackles in the rest of free agency and the draft, allowing them to target other positions of need.

Lack of good pass blocking, especially in year 2 and the beginning of year 3 (really, before Onwenu took over at tackle), was a big catalyst for Mac's loss of confidence and form, and having a stable tackle situation will be crucial for whoever plays QB for the Patriots next year.

Read More NFL News From Stadium Rant Here: NFL News


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