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The Patriots Work Toward Their Future With Two Major Extensions

With a number of players having contracts end after the 2023 season, the Patriots were heading towards a chaotic and busy 2024 off-season. They've taken two big steps towards alleviating that tension with their signings of Devante Parker and JaWhaun Bentley to extensions. Here's what the extensions mean for the team and their respective position groups, and why this was an underrated good week for the team.

Devante Parker

In one of the Patriots' OTAs, JuJu Smith Schuster, Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Tyquan Thornton were all out for various reasons. The Pats were headlined at the receiver by late-round or undrafted rookies: Ed Lee, Kayshon Boutte, Demario Douglas, and Malik Cunningham. While the rookies have been fairly promising, this did provide an insight into the Patriots' lack of WR depth.

Signing Parker helps ensure wide-receiver depth for the future, and the way his three-year, 33 million contract is structured, it shouldn't stop the Patriots from being able to sign target free agent this year, including DeAndre Hopkins, who is very much still in the running at this point. There's no question that Parker comes with his limitations. He didn't take very well to being the number one option, and his stat line of 31 catches for 539 yards and three touchdowns in 2022 was on the mediocre side for someone of his caliber.

However, at his best, he's a bona fide downfield threat still and the only currently rostered weapon that can consistently catch 50:50 balls. He's an experienced and strong route runner. In 2022, the play calling didn't use him properly, and he constantly found himself matched up with CB1's. This year, in a better offensive system, and having another strong threat in JuJu to attract defenders, he should find his stride. Should the Patriots manage to get Hopkins, Parker can flourish even more.

Like for many of last year's Patriots on offense, it's not fair to judge Parker on 2022's performance. It's time for him to show his true mettle.

JaWhaun Bentley

Bentley doesn't enter many conversations as far as the top linebackers in the NFL, but that's probably a mistake. He is one of the most versatile defenders in the league, having shown strong abilities in stopping the run, rushing the passer, and even in coverage. His versatility may have come in the way of him contending to lead any one statistical category. However, he was flying all over the field in 2022.

122 total tackles, three sacks, an interception, and two pass deflections in 2021. Simply put, the guy made plays, and he's been doing it more consistently and reliably than almost anyone on the team. His intangible traits make him irreplaceable on this team. He has excellent field vision, and his play shows his ability to widen and broaden his view as necessary. It's hard, as a result, to bait him. Those senses, combined with his athleticism, hitting power and precision, make him an excellent inside linebacker.

In a defense that just lost a veteran leader in Devin McCourty, Bentley is going to have to step up as a bigger emotional leader than he has already been. With so much young talent on the defense, his experience is going to be extremely valuable for the Patriots.

The Bottom Line For The Patriots

The team extends two players that are integral for the future, with contracts that lean towards years with much more favorable salary cap situations. They can still go for big free agents this year and make next year's expiring contract situation a tad easier. Overall, a very good week for the team.


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