Patriots LB Turned Down Millions to Remain in New England: Report - Sport News

Patriots LB Turned Down Millions to Remain in New England: Report

It was an intriguing tweet from NFL insider Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network. In announcing that the Patriots had agreed to a new deal with edge rusher Josh Uche, Garafolo noted that he had accepted a one-year contract and had better offers elsewhere.

New England Patriots' Josh Uche Knows Not To Play In The Past

Wrote Garafolo on Twitter/X: “The #Patriots have agreed to terms with LB Josh Uche to return to New England on a one-year deal, sources tell me and @RapSheet. The 2020 second-round pick had much more on the table elsewhere but returns to Foxboro.”

Now, from Garafolo’s colleague at the NFL Network, Tom Pelissero, come some details of what, exactly, Uche left on the table to stick with the Patriots.

“Josh Uche had several offers, including one worth $15 million over two years, with $11M fully guaranteed. But his heart was in New England, and he opted to return for less: A one-year, $3M deal with upside to $8M. A rare time a player makes the final call and doesn’t chase the money,” Pelissero wrote.

Josh Uche had several offers, including one worth $15 million over two years, with $11M fully guaranteed. But his heart was in New England, and he opted to return for less: A one-year, $3M deal with upside to $8M. A rare time a player makes the final call and doesn’t chase the… https://t.co/8OZjXQKgk0

— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 13, 2024


Josh Uche’s Play Dipped in 2023

While it is not a surprise that Uche wanted to remain in New England, it is a surprise that he sacrificed so much potential financial gain to do so. The Patriots obviously like Uche, but understand they need him to find ways to stay on the field more often, rather than just as a quarterback hunter in passing situations.

Uche played in 15 games last year, but his sack numbers dropped dramatically, from 11.5 in 2022 to 3.0. His quarterback hits went from 14 down to six, and he actually played fewer snaps than in 2022, that number dropping from 374 to 331.

That’s why a one-year deal made some sense—Uche needs to regain some momentum and if he can do that in 2024, he will be able to sign a much bigger deal in 2025.

As Pro Football Focus wrote of him: “Uche’s role diminished despite injuries to key contributors such as Matthew Judon in New England. Uche is a pure designated pass-rusher who can be deployed on late downs to pin his ears back and get home for timely pressures and sacks, which is still valuable. A one-year flier to boost his stock back up may be the best route at this juncture.”


Patriots Offer Make-Good Deal

It makes sense, too, for Uche to attempt to rebuild his value with the Patriots, the team that has nurtured him since making him their second-rounder in 2020. He has never been a true starter in the NFL, and wasn’t a starter in college, either. At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, he may be too small to be an every-down outside presence.

There has long been speculation about him moving inside, but that hasn’t happened.

Having a new head coach, Jerod Mayo, who was a linebacker himself may have been a factor in Uche’s decision to stick around in New England. Perhaps Mayo sold Uche on his plans for his development this season.

But Uche has said all along he wanted to be in New England, and former coach Bill Belichick foresaw him staying put.

“Free agency, I really don’t know what to expect,” Uche told the team website in December “This is my first time going through it. Whoever wants me, wants me, and I want to go where I’m wanted.

“I feel like the team plays everything close to the vest. From my conversation with Coach [Belichick], that’s what it’s looking like [that the Patriots would like to retain him]. But, again, words are words. At the end of the day, it comes down to actions.”

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