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What Jahlani Tavai’s Extension Means for New England

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New England Patriots defensive tackle Davon Godchaux (92) celebrates with line backer Jahlani Tavai (48) after a stop during the second half an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Greg M. Cooper)

The New England Patriots were unhappy with the job Bill Belichick was doing building their football team. It caused the two sides to “part ways” after a 4-13 season in 2023. Big changes appeared to be on the horizon with New England having “cash to burn” to weaponize their roster. However, nearly all of the new regime’s moves have centered around locking up Belichick Era players.

The Patriots brought back Mike Onwenu, Kyle Dugger, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, Anfernee Jennings, Joshua Uche, and Jalen Reagor in (or before) free agency. All will return to New England in 2024. All were either drafted or signed under Belichick’s watch.

New England also went to work locking up several players to extensions. These were all players entering the final year of their contracts in 2024, set to test free agency next year. Christian Barmore was followed by David Andrews, and then Rhamondre Stevenson. Tuesday, Jahlani Tavai became the fourth Patriots player to receive an extension.

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Tavai’s deal brings the total of Belichick players to 11 that the present management has signed to play in 2024, and in nine cases, beyond.

Jahlani Tavai’s Extension

ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported that the extension for Tavai is three years at $15 million, with a max value of $21 million. If Tavai comes close to matching last season’s production, the deal is outstanding value for the New England Patriots.

Pro Football Focus graded Jahlani Tavai as the top linebacker in the AFC in 2023. He received an 86.6 grade for his defensive performance. Combined with his work on special teams, Tavai earned the Tom Brady Award as PFN’s New England Patriots Most Valuable Player.

Free agent linebackers this past offseason cashed in. Frankie Luvu went from Carolina to Washington for three years and $36 million. Patrick Queen exited Baltimore for Pittsburgh on a three-year $41 million deal. Jordyn Brooks joined Miami from Seattle for $30 million over three years. None of those players had the type of season Jahlani Tavai did in 2023. To get Tavai signed for a maximum of $21 million over the same timeframe seems like an absolute steal for New England.

Tavai and Ja’Whaun Bentley will get the majority of snaps in the middle of New England’s defense. The depth on the 90-man roster includes Sione Takitaki, Raekwon McMillan, Christian Elliss, Joe Giles-Harris, and UDFAs Jontrey Hunter and Steele Chambers. The Patriots locking up the 27-year-old to what feels like a team-friendly deal before training camp is a solid move.

Moving Forward for New England

Despite a new regime in Foxboro running the show, it is evident that players favored by Bill Belichick did not become outcasts. The team’s nucleus seems centered around players remaining from last season’s roster. While this is unexpected in one sense, because roster-building was partially what cost the winningest coach of the Super Bowl Era his job, it is good news in another. Eliot Wolf and the Patriots front office are not cutting ties with players simply for the sake of starting anew. If management has a positive evaluation of a player, regardless of how or when they arrived, the Patriots want to retain that player.

Extension candidates for the New England Patriots have previously been discussed on Patriots Football Now. While some have now received their extensions, others remain in wait. Among those players entering the final year of their contracts in New England are Matthew Judon, Davon Godchaux, Jabrill Peppers, and Jonathan Jones. Godchaux has already expressed a desire to get something done before camp begins. That unofficial deadline arrives before this month’s end. So who will be next to lock up an extension from New England? That remains unknown. What is known is that being brought to New England by Bill Belichick is not working against anyone.

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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