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Dolphins Deal Could Help Set the Market for Patriots Duo

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New England Patriots guard Mike Onwenu blocks against the Washington Commanders during an NFL football game at Gillette Stadium, Sunday Nov. 5, 2023 in Foxborough, Mass. Onwenu should be the Patriots top priority in NFL free agency. (Winslow Townson/AP Images for Panini)

The Miami Dolphins have agreed to a contract extension with offensive tackle Austin Jackson. NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport was first to report. Jackson’s extension is reportedly for 3-years and $36 million. The deal has a max value of $39 million, with $20.7 million guaranteed. Miami’s right tackle was slated to hit free agency after this season. His deal could help set the market for other pending free agent tackles, such as the New England Patriots duo of Trent Brown and Mike Onwenu.

Austin Jackson plays right tackle, but because Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is a lefty, Jackson protects his blindside. He was a first round pick (No. 18 overall) out of USC in the 2020 NFL Draft. He spent most of 2022 on injured reserve, appearing in only two games. But he has had a solid season in 2023. With a limited offensive tackle market in free agency, Miami opted to lock up Jackson early. At 24-years old, Jackson is younger than some prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Two of the highest regarded offensive tackles in the 2024 free agency class are Trent Brown and Mike Onwenu. The Patriots offensive line has struggled as a unit this season, but the tackles have both played well when healthy.

Trent Brown started the year strong, before being derailed by a series of ankle, knee, and chest injuries. He has appeared 9-of-12 games, with eight starts. Pro Football Focus grades Brown as the third best offensive tackle in the NFL this season. The 30-year-old left tackle is currently in his second stint in New England. He was the starting right tackle for the 2018 Super Bowl champion Patriots team. He left to join the Raiders in free agency, then returned following the 2020 season. Brown ranks behind only Tyron Smith of the Cowboys among left tackles set to hit the open market.

New England drafted Mike Onwenu in the same 2020 draft as Miami selected Austin Jackson. However, Onwenu was a sixth-round pick by the Patriots (No. 182 overall). Despite the difference in draft position, Onwenu has been a more consistent performer in the NFL. He has been healthier as well, despite missing the first two games of 2023. Aside from Sunday’s game again the Chargers, Onwenu has thrived since shifting from guard to right tackle in Week 7 against Buffalo. Onwenu will turn 26-years old this week.

In terms of age, experience, position, and performance, Mike Onwenu is comparable to Austin Jackson. Pro Football Focus has them ranked No. 30 and No. 36 respectively among offensive tackles this season. Jackson’s contract will likely be the starting point for any contract negotiations with Onwenu.

There are many unknowns about how the 2024 New England Patriots will look. But no matter who is playing quarterback in Foxboro, it is crucial to have that person well protected.