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Patriots Roster Breakdown: Mike Onwenu Remains Unsigned

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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)

There are expected to be a lot of changes in the New England Patriots locker room before the 2024 season gets underway. The coaching staff has already seen significant turnover, most notably with Jerod Mayo replacing Bill Belichick as head coach. But what will the New England roster look like in the fall? Some of that will be determined by players not currently on the team. The NFL Draft and free agency will both bring new faces to Foxboro. But what about the players from 2023? Patriots Football Now will break down all potential 2024 roster players in “Patriots Roster Breakdown” before Week 1 arrives in September.

Today’s Patriots Roster Breakdown featured player is Mike Onwenu.

Mike Onwenu

The New England Patriots selected Mike Onwenu in the sixth round (No. 182 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft. Onwenu was a starter from Week 1 of his rookie year in New England. He has been incredibly durable for the Patriots. Onwenu has played in 65 of a possible 68 games during his NFL tenure.

Onwenu has proven to be a versatile offensive lineman. He played 67.2% of his snaps at right tackle as a rookie but also saw time at both guard spots. In 2021 he split time evenly between right tackle and left guard, while also lining up as a jumbo tackle. Onwenu moved to right guard for the entire 2022 season. He remained there to start this past season but was shifted over to right tackle due to others having trouble filling the role.

Last season Mike Onwenu was one of the few bright spots on New England’s offense. He won the John Hannah Award as the Patriots Offensive Player of the Year. Despite missing two games in 2023, Onwenu finished second on the Patriots in offensive snaps (851).

Onwenu was particularly effective as a run blocker. He helped create a lane while playing right tackle on New England’s longest offensive play of 2023 a 64-yard Rhamondre Stevenson touchdown run.

Pro Football Focus viewed Mike Onwenu’s performance favorably in 2023. His final grade for the year was 71.5. The grade was the lowest of Onwenu’s four-year NFL career. He allowed a career-high 23 pressures while committing four penalties. However, Onwenu’s durability, flexibility, and productivity were all more valuable to New England than his PFF grade accounts for.

Contract Status

Mike Onwenu is an unrestricted free agent. He is set to hit the open market.

Offensive Line Group

The positional plan for Mike Onwenu with New England or elsewhere is unclear. He has proven very capable at either guard spot or at right tackle. Both Onwenu and starting left tackle Trent Brown are headed to free agency. However, the Patriots have some depth on their roster at both guard and tackles.

Tackles under contract in New England: Chukwuma Okorafor, Calvin Anderson, Vederian Lowe, Conor McDermott, Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and Andrew Stueber.

Guards under contract in New England: Cole Strange, Sidy Sow, Atonio Mafi, and Michael Jordan.

Centers under contract in New England: David Andrews and Jake Andrews.

Wheatley Jr. (T/G), Sow (G/T), and Jake Andrews (C/G) could all provide some positional versatility.

Outlook for Mike Onwenu

Mike Onwenu is wanted back by the New England Patriots. Team executive Eliot Wolf and head coach Jerod Mayo have both made this clear in statements ahead of free agency. The question is, will New England pay market value for Onwenu? And also, what is that market value? It is hard to see if teams (including the Patriots) view Onwenu as a right tackle or a guard. Although the recent signing of Okorafor gives New England additional depth at tackle, his contract is low enough that he is certainly not locked into a starting spot.

Onwenu could receive in the neighborhood of a four-year $60 million deal. If that happens, there is an excellent chance Mike Onwenu has played his final game for the New England Patriots. If New England is serious about keeping him, they should not let him remain unsigned on Monday, when he can start taking phone calls during the legal tampering period.

Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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