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What Will the Patriots Do About Matthew Judon?

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New England Patriots Pro Bowl linebacker Matthew Judon gets ready for Week 1 vs the Philadelphia Eagles

A trade rumor circulated over this past weekend involving the New England Patriots. The deal, proposed by Bleacher Report, had the Patriots parting ways with Pro Bowl linebacker Matthew Judon. The haul for New England’s lone Pro Bowl player over the past two seasons? Marginal upgrades in Day 3 draft picks.

The trade proposal was not reported on initially on Patriots Football Now. It felt like a bored NFL writer looking for something to write about. The report was not legitimate enough to report on. However, once the trade proposal got more attention online, including from Matthew Judon himself, the response became news even if the original article did not qualify as such.

The Trade Proposal

Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballantine trade proposal had Matthew Judon returning to his original NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens. New England would send Judon to Baltimore, along with their own 2025 seventh-round pick, and a 2025 seventh-round pick acquired from the Tennessee Titans.

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New England receives back in this hypothetical trade, a 2025 fifth-round pick and a 2026 fifth-round pick.

If both Baltimore and New England finished the 2024 season roughly where they are projected to, this would move their draft pick from the beginning of Round 7 to the end of Round 5. Not a considerable jump. And the 2026 seventh-round pick is valued as the equivalent of a 2025 round-six pick. So there’s even less of a projected gain there.

Would the Patriots be willing to part with Matthew Judon for two Day 3 draft pick moves up the board?

Problems With the Trade

Matthew Judon becomes a free agent after the 2024 season, barring a contract extension. New England needs to determine if Judon is a core player they’d like to lock up for a few more years, or if they want to spend their resources elsewhere. The New England Patriots are unlikely to be competing for a spot in the Super Bowl in 2024, but that doesn’t mean that by 2026 or 2027 they won’t be back in contention.

Judon turns 32 in August. He is also coming off a season-ending injury in 2023, which limited him to just four games. Washington received a high second-round pick for trading Montez Sweat to Chicago at the deadline last year. Sweat was 27 and healthy, but was also a pending free agent. New England getting less than No. 50 overall (the return for Sweat) would not be unreasonable. However, the trade value chart makes the total return in this trade the equivalent of No. 173 overall, a pick at the end of the fifth round.

If the Patriots trade Judon, one would assume they’d get a better return. And if they did not get a better offer than a pick at the end of Round 5, why not just hold onto him?

Other Options for Judon

New England has other options besides trading Matthew Judon, whether in a deal similar to the one above or for a greater return. They can sign him to a contract extension before he hits free agency. Or, the Patriots could let him play out his final season in Foxboro and see what happens.

Extending Judon is an obvious solution in theory. As mentioned, Judon will be 32 when the 2024 season begins and is coming off a significant injury. Based on age and health, hesitation on New England’s behalf to commit to a significant extension would be understandable. Judon’s next contract is likely his last big one, so he will look to get paid handsomely. What number would entice Judon not to test free agency? And would the Patriots be open to such an offer, perhaps including non-guarantees to protect them from declining play or injury?

Would a three-year, $60 million contract with $40 million guaranteed seal the deal? Only Eliot Wolf and Matthew Judon’s agent know that answer.

The Patriots could also just let Judon play out the final season of his deal, confirm if he is healthy and productive, and attempt to retain him after the season. This approach risks losing Judon after the season or overpaying to retain him. Judon could also be an unhappy camper in Foxboro without an extension. Trent Brown was in a similar situation a year ago and appeared to “quietly quit” on the team over the second half of the season. It is unlikely Judon would follow Brown’s lead. Making Judon happy seems like it would be a priority to New England. A pleasant workplace has been a point of emphasis in Foxboro for 2024,

Matthew Judon’s Response

Although Judon was not present for the Patriots OTAs, he has indicated he will be in attendance for mandatory team activities. Judon was asked by Karen Guregian of MassLive about attending mandatory minicamp with New England. Not attending would reportedly cost him $101,000 in fines.

“Hell yeah,” Judon responded. “I ain’t giving no money away.”

As for the trade rumors, Judon appeared to hear them loud and clear, posting on his X account a clip from The Wolf of Wall Street.

It’s worth noting that this clip from the film takes place immediately following Leonardo DiCaprio’s character giving a speech where he repeatedly screams, “I’m not leaving!”

The New England Patriots could handle their contract situation with Matthew Judon in several ways. These range from trading him for a pair of late Day 3 draft picks to giving him a contract extension before the 2024 season begins. The Patriots are attempting to establish a core group to build around. Despite his age, including New England’s lone Pro Bowl player since 2021 in that core makes more sense than trading him away. Finding common ground for Judon to sign a contract extension in New England is the most logical conclusion to these offseason rumors.

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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