Shortly after adding their first big-name free agent during the NFL’s legal tampering period two weeks ago, the New England Patriots made their second move. The team bolstered its interior defensive line by signing former Miami Dolphins nose tackle Davon Godchaux to a two-year contract with a value of $16 million.
Godchaux is expected to play a prominent role within the New England defense, filling a position up front that was left undermanned during the 2020 season (which in turn contributed to the unit’s issues versus the run). Accordingly, the 26-year-old will see plenty of action on early downs and in short-yardage situations — meaning that the Patriots will count on him to stay healthy and available.
Luckily his injury history suggests that he has a good chance of doing that. Let’s take a closer look at it to find out what his medical record means from the Patriots’ perspective.
2013 (Plaquemine High School): Godchaux had an impressive high school career and earned four-star status as a recruit even as his senior campaign was cut short due to injury. He tore both his ACL and his LCL during the Green Devils’ 2013 season opener and remained sidelined for the rest of the season. The injury did not affect Godchaux’s preparation for his college career at LSU, however.
2017 (Dolphins): After playing in 37 of a possible 37 games in college, Godchaux also appeared in the first 11 contests of his professional career. However, a knee injury suffered in practice forced him to sit out an early-December game versus the Denver Broncos. After a one-week absence, he was back on the field the following Monday versus New England.
2018 (Dolphins): Leading up to a late-September game against the Patriots, Godchaux was listed as questionable on the Dolphins’ injury report because of an ankle issue. The injury did not impact his availability, though. Quite the opposite, actually: he played a season-high 57 defensive snaps during his team’s 38-7 loss at Gillette Stadium.
Seven weeks later, leading up to a Week 12 game versus the Indianapolis Colts, Godchaux was again limited in practice. This time, a shin issue was the cause of his reduced workload. Once again, however, it did not change his game-day status: Godchaux suited up against the Colts and ended up playing 42 snaps along Miami’s D-line.
2019 (Dolphins): Ahead of a mid-November game versus the Colts, Godchaux popped up on the injury report due to a shoulder ailment. The issue did not keep him out of the game, however, and also did not impact his playing time: he was active and ended up seeing 44 snaps and a playing time share of 64 percent — perfectly in line with his season average.
2020 (Dolphins): In early August, the Dolphins had to send Godchaux to the NFL’s newly created Coronavirus reserve list. He was activated just two days later, however, and afterwards blamed a false-positive test result for his short stint in isolation. Godchaux did not miss any playing time following his Covid-19 scare, and appeared in the first five of Miami’s games during the 2020 season.
However, that fifth contest turned out to be his final one as a Dolphin: the veteran defender suffered a torn biceps during the mid-October win over the San Francisco 49ers, and later had to undergo surgery. While there was a theoretical chance that he would return for a potential playoff run, Godchaux was never activated from injured reserve and therefore ended his fourth NFL season on the sidelines.
What this means for the Patriots
Despite his 2020 season ending on injured reserve, Godchaux has proven himself a durable player going all the way back to his college career. Between his ACL/LCL tear as a high school senior and his biceps injury last October, he missed only one out of 90 possible games because of injury. He was listed on the Dolphins’ practice report a few times, but was not visibly impacted due to those ailments on game day.
The Patriots can therefore feel pretty good about their investment from a durability perspective. Even though he is playing one of the most physically taxing positions on the field, Godchaux has shown that he can withstand the pressure and consistently play on a high level.