Matt Judon

Patriots Talking Extension With OLB Matt Judon, DT Christian Barmore

In the summer, the Patriots started discussions with star pass rusher Matt Judon concerning a new contract as he headed into the second-to-last season of his current deal. With talks of a new contract on the horizon, Judon agreed to a restructured deal that included several incentives he would miss out on due to injury this year. Still, the deal was made with the expectation that both sides would return to the table in the offseason. With the first wave of free agency over, those talks have resumed, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Judon’s biceps injury ended up being a season-ending ailment. Though, it seemed at times there was a possibility for him to return, Judon missed every remaining game after his injury. As a result, Reiss believes that any future extension offer the Patriots may draft up will be incentive-heavy, to protect them in the case of another long-term injury.

While that makes sense for New England, Judon has already experienced the loss of income as a result of a contract that fails to protect him from injury. As a player with star talent who missed extended time for the first time in his career in 2023 and lost money as a result, Judon will likely be seeking a deal high in guarantees. Perhaps a middle ground can be reached on a deal that both delivers a large guaranteed sum to Judon while still leaving a bit of achievable additional income through incentives.

The Patriots are also expected to begin extension talks with defensive tackle Christian Barmore. The former second-round pick out of Alabama is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and had a career year in a breakout season. In six starts in 2023, Barmore led a team missing Judon in sacks with 8.5, more than tripling his previous career high. His exceptional pass rushing metrics graded out seventh in the NFL for interior defenders, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and he graded out as the eighth-best overall interior defender as a result.

With Barmore showing the promise that helped him get drafted in the second round, the Patriots will try to get a jump on signing him to an extension. They’ll want to avoid a situation in which he continues to excel during a contract year in 2024 and prices himself out of New England.

AFC East Rumors: Eichenberg, Hines, Pats

With a little more time and a lot more publicity, Dolphins offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg could have a case for Comeback Player of the Year. Not really, but Eichenberg has done an impressive job of turning around his career, which was trending downwards through his first two years in the league.

An offensive tackle at Notre Dame, Eichenberg struggled as a rookie full-time starter at left tackle in Miami. In 2022, Eichenberg slid inside to the left guard spot and delivered a more admirable performance before having his season derailed by injuries.

Eichenberg opened this year as a sixth-man for the Dolphins’ offensive line, specializing on interior play. When injuries held out starting center Connor Williams, Eichenberg stepped in to complete his trifecta of starting at every position on the left side of the line. Later on, he filled in with starts at right and left guard, as well. He’s reportedly more comfortable at right guard, but the Dolphins opted to start him at left guard last week ahead of Lester Cotton, who had started there the past two weeks.

In fact, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miami’s staff has been so impressed with Eichenberg that, barring a miraculous return by Isaiah Wynn from a significant quadriceps injury, Eichenberg could have won the starting left guard job for the remainder of the season.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East:

  • Patriots star pass rusher Matt Judon has now missed the team’s last nine games on injured reserve. Judon has certainly missed enough time to come off of IR, but there’s been no word of that possibility yet. According to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald, when head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the possibility of Judon returning this year, the long-time skipper replied“We’ll see. That’s a good question.” He continued, “I know he’s working hard. Matt’s been in here, works hard on a daily basis, but again, that’s a medical question that I wouldn’t be able to answer.”
  • When Bills running back Nyheim Hines suffered an off-site jet ski injury that would end his 2023 season before it even began, that put the veteran rusher in an uncomfortable position concerning his contract. Since the injury occurred away from play, Hines was placed on the non-football injury list, “which technically doesn’t require the team to pay him anything,” per Zak Keefer of The Athletic. Hines was out millions in incentives and bonuses. It took the two sides a few months to hammer out the details, but eventually, they “agreed on a smaller sum” than the $9MM over two years that they had originally agreed to. This allows the Bills to stay on good terms with Hines when he’s able to return to the team next year while saving them from having to pay his full contract for a year in which he won’t see the field.
  • When it was reported that Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown failed to make the trip to Frankfurt with the team for personal reasons, Brown took exception to the speculation that followed. Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Brown felt the need to clarify that the reason he was unable to make the trip was because of the second opinion he sought on his ankle sprain. While he did attend a funeral during the team’s visit to Germany, he was not able to spend much personal time with his family as he was due back in New England for rehab.

Patriots Place Matt Judon On IR, Activate Tyquan Thornton, Sign Malik Cunningham To Active Roster

The Patriots opted for a busy weekend in the personnel office with today’s transactions. They started by activating wide receiver Tyquan Thornton from injured reserve. Unfortunately, this was followed up by the team finally deciding to place star pass rusher Matt Judon on IR, along with recently acquired tackle Tyrone Wheatley Jr. With a new spare roster spot, New England signed practice squad quarterback Malik Cunningham to the active roster. Finally, the Patriots announced their standard gameday practice squad elevations would be defensive tackle Jeremiah Pharms and wide receiver Jalen Reagor.

Let’s start with Thornton. One of the couple of moves here aimed at providing a spark on the offensive side of the ball, bringing back Thornton was a necessity. As JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas deal with injuries, Thornton will come in as a reinforcement to earn targets alongside DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Kayshon Boutte. Thornton didn’t quite live up to the high expectations of his draft stock last year as a rookie, but he’s one of the few returning receivers that quarterback Mac Jones worked with last year. He’ll hope to redeem himself a bit in Year 2 with the Patriots.

After multiple reports that he would be out indefinitely, Judon has finally been placed on IR. Based on the team slow-playing that transaction, it was already doubtful that Judon would make a return this season. Now, the earliest he could return from IR would be in Week 10. He’s joined on IR by Wheatley Jr., who was acquired in the trade that sent running back Pierre Strong to Cleveland.

The addition of Cunningham is an interesting move. He has the potential to provide a spark on offense in two ways. New England has worked him out plenty at wide receiver since signing him as an undrafted free agent, but Cunningham surpassed a lot of Lamar Jackson‘s passing marks as a quarterback at Louisville, ranking fourth all-time for passing yards and fifth all-time for passing touchdowns. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that Cunningham’s return to the active roster will result in a three-year contract.

This will be Pharm’s third game being called up from the practice squad. He’s gotten a few snaps rotating in on the defensive line in the team’s last two blowout losses. Reagor was called up last week but didn’t actually see the field.

Patriots Activate T Riley Reiff; Place CB Christian Gonzalez On IR

With a number of names becoming eligible to come off injured reserve, the Patriots were likely hoping for more. Still, Mac Jones and company will be happy to hear that veteran offensive tackle Riley Reiff has been activated from IR, according to a team announcement. It was also announced that rookie first-round cornerback Christian Gonzalez was officially placed on IR.

With names like cornerback Jack Jones and wide receiver Tyquan Thornton eligible to be activated off IR and defensive end Trey Flowers designated to return from the physically unable to perform list, Reiff alone feels a little disappointing. Flowers’ window is still open, and he’ll hopefully be able to return next week, but for now, he remains on IR as his 21-day clock counts down.

With Gonzalez officially on IR and likely out for the remainder of the season, getting Jones back soon becomes imperative. The team traded with the Chargers to bring back cornerback J.C. Jackson, but even still, adding Jones back to an ailing cornerbacks group could be huge. Like Flowers, he still has the option of being activated soon. Unlike Flowers, his 21-day practice window has not yet been opened, so he may remain on IR for a few more weeks to come.

While Gonzalez found his way to IR, New England has yet to place star pass rusher Matt Judon on the injured list, according to Ian Rapoport. Judon, who underwent surgery for a bicep injury earlier this week, has been pronounced as out indefinitely. Based on how surgery went, and his continued presence on the active roster, it sounds like there’s a decent chance for Judon to make a return in 2023. December is reportedly a goal that appears to be realistic.

The return of Reiff will be big for the depth of the team’s offensive line, particularly at tackle. Vederian Lowe, Calvin Anderson, and rookie Sidy Sow have all contributed for the Patriots at right tackle across from Trent Brown so far this year. Reiff, a longtime starter in the NFC North, was expected to compete for the starting job at tackle, and his return could be impactful for the New England offense.

The last transaction for the Patriots before their Week 5 matchup is the standard gameday elevation of defensive lineman Jeremiah Pharms Jr. Pharms was activated last week and made his NFL debut in the team’s loss to the Cowboys. He gained some USFL experience after going undrafted out of Friends University and signed with the Patriots at the conclusion of the USFL season.

Edge Notes: Judon, Sweat, Van Noy, Bears

The Patriots’ defense has been hit hard by injuries lately, including the torn bicep suffered by pass rusher Matt Judon. The four-time Pro Bowler is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery, and it is doubtful he will be able to return this season.

Judon is likely facing a six-month recovery timeline, as noted by ESPN’s Dan Graziano. That would, of course, shut him down for the remainder of the season – something which would also carry financial implications for him given the nature of his restructured contract. The 31-year-old has expressed a desire to play again this year, though, and Graziano adds he and the Patriots are exploring a recovery path similar to that of Steelers star T.J. Watt.

The latter suffered a torn pectoral muscle in Week 2 of last year, an injury which usually shuts players down for the season. The former Defensive Player of the Year managed to recover in time to play in Week 9, however, which helped spark a late-season playoff push in Pittsburgh. Judon will attempt to emulate that, but for now it appears unlikely he will be able to do so.

Here are some other edge-related notes from around the league:

  • Chase Young and Montez Sweat form the foundation of the pass rush contingent for the Commanders, but one has played to their potential far more than the other. Despite being a former No. 2 pick, Young is in line to reach free agency in March since his fifth-year option was declined amidst major injury concerns and an inability to follow up on an encouraging rookie season. Sweat is likewise in need of a new deal, as he is playing on his $11.5MM option in 2023. Of the two, SI’s Albert Breer expects the latter to be targeted for a long-term second contract over Young. Breer explains that Sweat – who already has 4.5 sacks in 2023, bringing him halfway to matching his single-season high – will likely be easier to extend than Young. With big-money commitments to defensive linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen already in place, Washington would be hard pressed to retain both Sweat and Young on multi-year pacts.
  • Facing a number of injury concerns amongst their outside linebackers, the Ravens recently signed Kyle Van Noy to serve in a depth capacity. The veteran has proven to be an effective hybrid defender, and his playing time should increase given the fact 2022 second-rounder David Ojabo could miss the rest of the campaign. Van Noy’s arrival in Baltimore could have come much sooner, though. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic notes that the Ravens tried to sign 32-year-old this offseason, but the sides couldn’t agree on compensation. That opened the door to the team’s Jadeveon Clowney acquisition, but the pair are now in place together. Each will have a role to play as the Ravens look to maintain a top-10 sack total (13 through four games) through the remainder of the year.
  • The Bears ended their 14-game losing streak last night, but the team’s defensive struggles were deserving of much of the blame for the skid reaching that length. The unit has been hampered in recent years by a lack of established edge rushing options, which made Chicago’s Yannick Ngakoue August signing an unsurprising one. The 28-year-old’s one-year, $10MM pact has led to a pair of sacks so far, but as a team Chicago has registered only seven to date. As a result, defensive end will be a priority in the 2024 offseason, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The 1-4 Bears will have chances in free agency and the draft to add much-needed contributors on the edge, regardless of if Ngakoue is retained.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Achane, Hall, Judon

A Bills team that is looking to win their fourth-straight division title lost a crucial piece of their defense when veteran cornerback Tre’Davious White suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon. With Christian Benford and Taron Johnson already starting so far this season, the team will be relying on backups to step up in White’s absence.

Last year’s first-round pick Kaiir Elam has been a healthy-scratch for the first four games of the season but may be forced into action now that it’s necessary. Dane Jackson was the one who saw increased snaps upon White’s departure last weekend. Siran Neal and Cameron Lewis also have an opportunity to contribute. Head coach Sean McDermott, while maintaining that the Bills have faith in the guys already in their building, didn’t rule out the potential of a free agent signing to help reinforce the group, according to The Athletic’s Tim Graham.

If Buffalo is interested in veteran options, former Broncos cornerback Chris Harris is available after coming off the practice squad for the Saints to start four games last season. Veteran free agent Casey Hayward is also available after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury last year. Either option would provide veteran, starting experience for the Bills in place of White.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting down in Dade County:

  • Dolphins rookie running back Devon Achane has exploded onto the scene in the past two weeks. After only registering two touches over the first two games of the season for Miami, Achane has totaled 353 total yards and six total touchdowns in the last two games alone. Needless to say, the Dolphins are looking to get the ball in Achane’s hands more often, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The only issue is that starting running back Raheem Mostert has been impressive in his own right so far this year, and the team also likes Jeff Wilson and Salvon Ahmed, who are each trying to shake off injuries. Regardless, it’s going to be tough to keep Achane off the field.
  • The Jets have been managing second-year running back Breece Hall on a limited snap count so far this season as he comes back to full strength from last year’s season-ending ACL tear. According to Schefter, head coach Robert Saleh informed the media that Hall will not be playing on a limited workload any longer. Hall’s early effectiveness, combined with the initial disappointment of the Dalvin Cook-addition, has prompted the team to increase the role of the player it views as the team’s primary rusher.
  • We knew that the serious injury to Patriots pass rusher Matt Judon would majorly impact his ability to make an impression for his next contract. Thanks to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, we have some details on how it affects him now, as well. His recent restructure presented the opportunity for Judon to make up to $3MM in incentives. Since he won’t be able to play for 75 percent of the team’s defense snaps and will likely miss the Pro Bowl and an All-Pro selection, Judon is likely to miss out on $2MM of those incentives. Additionally, he’ll be out approximately $766K in per game active roster bonuses that he wouldn’t qualify for over the rest of the year, if he can’t make a return this season.

Patriots’ Matt Judon To Undergo Surgery; OLB Out Indefinitely

The torn bicep which forced Matt Judon to exit New England’s Week 4 loss will lead to surgery and an extended absence. The team’s top edge rusher will undergo surgery on Wednesday, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

As Schefter notes, Judon’s intention is to return at some point this season. For the time being, though, he will be out indefinitely. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network adds that the 31-year-old will be sidelined for at least the next two months, an absence which be acutely felt along New England’s defensive front.

Judon has earned a Pro Bowl nod in each of the past four years, making his transition from the Ravens to the Patriots a smooth one. The former fifth-rounder racked up 28 sacks in his first two years in New England, giving him leverage in asking for a raise in term of 2023 compensation. His restructured pact upped his earnings for this season, giving him $14MM in guaranteed money. With 2024 still the final year of his contract, however, there was an expectation another strong campaign would lead to a new round of extension talks.

In the early going, Judon was well on his way to another productive season with a team-leading four sacks. He added 11 pressures and five tackles for loss in his three-plus games, putting him on track to secure either another lucrative restructure or a new multi-year pact in the offseason. In the wake of this injury, however, Judon’s bargaining position will no doubt be negatively affected.

The Patriots have registered six sacks so far from players other than Judon, so missing the latter for an extended stretch will put considerable strain on their edge rush group. Former second-rounder Josh Uchewho is in a contract year and posted 11.5 sacks last season, will be counted on to repeat his 2022 performance without Judon in the fold. New England currently has just over $4.2MM in cap space, meaning the team could afford a low-cost addition amongst the league’s remaining unsigned edge rushers. No member of that group would be able to replicate Judon’s impact, however, as the Patriots look to rebound from Sunday’s lopsided defeat.

Matt Judon To Miss Time With Biceps Injury

The Patriots might have been dealt a significant blow today in what was already a tough day with an extremely one-sided loss in Dallas. During the game against the Cowboys, star pass rusher Matt Judon suffered an injury that could affect him for a significant portion of the season. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Judon suffered a lower biceps tendon tear that is expected to sideline him for some time.

Judon would be a significant loss for a Patriots defense that has routinely depended on him as their source for pressuring the quarterback since he arrived in 2021. During his first season in New England, Judon led the team in sacks with 7.5 more than the next closest defender, setting a career-high for himself of 12.5. Last year, Judon once again led the team with a new career-high 15.5 sacks while being joined in double-digit totals by Josh Uche, who had 11.5.

This season has been more of the same for Judon who currently leads the team with four sacks, three more than anyone else on the team. The Patriots are already dealing with a litany of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, so if Judon is forced to miss significant time, New England may be scratching the bottom of the barrel for replacement options.

On the team’s depth chart, Anfernee Jennings and Chris Board are listed behind Judon as weakside linebackers. Board is a career special teamer who, through hard work, was able to earn some defensive snaps during his time in Baltimore and Detroit, but so far, the Patriots have only utilized him on special teams. Jennings, on the other hand, has never proven to be much of a pass rusher since being drafted in the third round three years ago, only amassing 1.5 sacks over his career.

While a diagnosis has already been determined, according to Schefter’s report, the severity of the injury is still to be determined by an MRI that will likely take place tomorrow. While Judon and the Patriots will have their fingers crossed for good news, similar injuries have had a history of being season-ending. Hopefully, Judon’s scans come back hinting at the possibility of a return this season, but in the case that they don’t, Judon will surely be thankful for the recent adjustment to his contract that increased his guaranteed earnings over the next two years.

Patriots Notes: Judon, Gesicki, Cunningham, Flowers

We’ve got more details on Matthew Judon‘s reworked deal with the Patriots, per ESPN’s Field Yates (on Twitter). The pass rusher’s revamped contract includes “more 2023 guarantees and upside” for one of New England’s top defenders.

Specifically, Judon got a $7MM signing bonus while seeing his 2023 base salary drop from $11MM to $7MM. His 2023 incentives increased from $500K to $3MM while his $1MM in per-game bonuses stay the same. That all results in a cap hit of $16.44MM.

More simply, Judon got an effective $3MM raise in his 2023 base pay (which is reflected in the $7MM signing bonus, not the base salary) and a $2.5MM raise via incentives, per Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).

As we noted earlier this month, Judon had some of his 2024 money pushed up to 2023, setting the stage for more drama next offseason. In a telling sign, Volin points out that the last time the Patriots accommodated this type of cap machination was in 2020 with Stephon Gilmore. New England ended up trading the star cornerback the following year.

More notes out of New England…

  • One of the Patriots’ biggest offseason acquisitions suffered an injury during practice this week. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter), Mike Gesicki suffered a “mild dislocated shoulder.” Despite the injury, Rapoport notes that there’s hope the tight end will be active for Week 1. Following a five-year stint with the Dolphins to begin his career, Gesicki inked a one-year deal worth up to $9MM with New England this offseason. The veteran is expected to often play alongside fellow TE Hunter Henry in the Patriots’ offense this season.
  • Veteran offensive lineman Riley Reiff signed with the Patriots this offseason, and while he’s destined for a role in the starting lineup, it remains to be seen exactly where he slots in. As Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald writes, Reiff has played both right guard and right tackle during camp. The 34-year-old’s role probably won’t be solidified until we get clarity on some of the Patriots’ other linemen, including Michael Onwenu (PUP), Calvin Anderson (NFI), Kody Russey (injured) and Cole Strange (injured).
  • Undrafted rookie QB Malik Cunningham impressed during training camp and the Patriots’ first preseason game, and Volin writes that the organization has no choice but to roster the Louisville product as a third QB behind Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe. As Volin notes, the Patriots signed Cunningham with the hope that he could be “another Julian Edelman” and transform from college quarterback to NFL wideout. Cunningham mostly worked with receivers in the spring, but Volin observes that the rookie has taken more and more reps under center and has clearly supplanted Trace McSorley as the organization’s third QB.
  • Trey Flowerssecond stint in New England will see him playing on a $1.165MM salary ($50K guaranteed), per Yates (on Twitter). The veteran defensive end can earn another $510K in per-game bonuses, plus a potential $825K in not-likely-to-be-earned incentives. This leads to a max value of $2.5MM, and Flowers will be attached to a $1.285MM cap hit.

Patriots Adjust Matt Judon’s Contract

AUGUST 6: Further details on the new agreement are in, courtesy of ESPN’s Mike Reiss. A void year for 2025 is in place, which will help smooth out the cap implications of the raise. The deal is now set to expire before free agency following that season, though, which means the franchise tag will not be an option for New England.

Judon’s new pact saw some of his $9.5MM 2024 salary pushed up to this season. That certainly helps his situation for the immediate future, but Reiss notes that the two parties will likely be in the same situation next offseason that they were in recent weeks given the absence of guarantees after 2023. Another strong season from Judon would help his bargaining position and likely further the mutual interest to prolong his Patriots tenure.

AUGUST 4: The contract talks between the Patriots and Matt Judon had occurred for a bit now, and they will produce a resolution early in training camp. The Patriots agreed to provide more guarantees for their top pass rusher.

Going into Friday, Judon’s through-2024 contract contained just $2MM in remaining guarantees. That number is now at $14MM, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). All of those guarantees come in 2023. No new years are included on this contract, which was originally agreed to during the Pats’ 2021 free agency splurge.

Judon has led the Patriots in sacks in each of the past two seasons, totaling 28 in that span. The ex-Raven’s $13.6MM-per-year contract is out of step with that value, and while the Patriots are not extending Judon at this point, they will reward the oft-red-sleeved edge dynamo ahead of his third season with the team. Judon, who will turn 31 this month, can earn up to $18MM in 2023. Originally, he was set to only earn $12MM with his $11MM base salary and a $1MM roster bonus. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, another $500K could’ve been added through another bonus. Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports that, of the $14MM, $7MM will be guaranteed base salary and $7MM will come in the form of a signing bonus.

So, basically, instead of only having $2MM guaranteed with an $11MM salary and the potential to make $1.5MM more in bonuses, Judon’s new deal will automatically guarantee him $14MM for the year. That may not be much of a raise, but it’s an act of good faith by the Patriots to make sure one of their best defenders knows he’s being taken care of for now.

Judon had staged a bit of a “hold-in” to start camp, participating in a limited capacity over the first few days, to presumably send a passive-aggressive message to the team that he was unhappy with how any talks towards a new deal were going. He’s since returned to full participation and with this amended contract, it seems that the situation will avoid devolving into any sort of mess.

Judon has shown he has a desire to stay in New England for the foreseeable future. While this newly reworked contract isn’t an extension, perhaps it serves as a promise of things to come as the Patriots strive to keep Judon happy until negotiations can resume.

Ely Allen contributed to this post.