On Thursday, news broke that the New England Patriots and starting center David Andrews have agreed to a three-year contract extension worth $9.0 million. The deal will keep the 24-year old, who originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015, will therefore tay with the team until 2020.
Let's take a closer look at what this means for the Patriots:
The starting interior line will stay intact for at least two more years
Andrews signing a three-year extension will keep from hitting the restricted free agency market next year and in the fold until after the 2020 season. As a result, the Patriots’ starting interior line will stay intact for at least the next two years: Guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason, both still on their rookie deals, are signed through 2019 and 2018, respectively.
Chemistry is key when it comes to solid offensive line play, particularly in regards to a unit as young as New England's. Keeping the unit's anchor and communicator in place is therefore an important move to secure the growth and performance of the entire offensive line.
Nate Solder becomes the line's priority free agent after 2017
With Andrews taken care of, New England can now turn its focus on the lone starting member of the offensive line to enter free agency next offseason: left tackle Nate Solder. The 29-year old is entering the final season of a two-year deal signed in 2015 and is a prime candidate to receive an extension. But even in the case he leaves New England via free agency, the team appears well-equipped with third-round rookie Tony Garcia on the roster.
The Patriots feel confident about Andrews’ development
While the Patriots went 28-2 when Andrews was starting over the last two years, not all was perfect. Last year’s divisional playoff game against the Houston Texans in particular showed some of his shortcomings: Andrews struggled against the quickness of the Texans’ interior defenders, rushing through his technique in an attempt to keep up.
Still, his contract extension shows that the coaching staff and front office feel confident about going forward with the 24-year old and that the Houston game was just a blip on the radar. After all, Andrews was a steady presence on the line the last two years and improved steadily during his first season as a starter. The Patriots obviously think this development will continue.
Tom Brady will be happy about the extension
New England’s starting quarterback has repeatedly praised the Georgia product in the past and will naturally be happy about receiving snaps from him for the foreseeable future. In general, the Patriots have done a good job of keeping the offense and its known contributors intact as well as possible. This certainly falls under the old mantra of “helping Brady“; and Andrews is the latest piece of that.
Andrews goes from undrafted rookie to 14th highest-paid center in the NFL
While the final details of the contract are not yet known, the three-year, $9.0 million contract makes Andrews one of the hightest-paid players at his position. The annual average of $3.0 million would rank 14th league-wide – quite the pay-raise for the former undrafted rookie, whose rookie deal paid him $1.5 million in salaries.