David Andrews has seen it all over his first six years in the NFL, but free agency was a new experience for him. The long-time New England Patriots starting center entered the open market in March, and took his time to make a decision about his landing spot.
When he did, however, he returned to the Patriots: Andrews’ first ever trip to free agency ended with him signing a four-year, $18.9 million contract to stay in New England for the foreseeable future. And as he explained during a media conference call last week, that was the outcome he and his family were hoping for all along.
“I think we were just trying to figure out what was best for us and our family. Knew we wanted to be back here if it all made sense. I kinda made that clear throughout the whole process I guess,” he said.
Andrews first arrived in New England as a rookie free agent following the 2015 NFL Draft. With incumbent starting center Bryan Stork dealing with concussion and neck issues to open the season, Andrews began his career right in the starting lineup. Even though Stork ultimately returned for the stretch run, the youngster was able to win the Patriots’ camp competition the following summer and secure his spot as the Patriots’ starting center.
The 28-year-old has held the role ever since, winning two Super Bowls along the way and establishing himself as a leader both on and off the field. Despite the success, however, a return in free agency was no guarantee.
In fact, it seemed as if the Patriots were already preparing to move on when they brought back Ted Karras on a one-year, $4 million contract. Karras had served as a versatile interior backup since joining the club in 2016, and in 2019 took over for Andrews when the starter was sidelined all season following the discovery of blood clots in his lungs.
At the end of the day, however, Andrews was re-signed after all.
“I don’t believe ever believe in closing any doors,” he said. “Obviously me and Ted have worked together for, what, four years before that? Teddy is a great teammate. He’s always been a great teammate and become a good friend of mine over those four or five years. Just excited to get a chance to work with him. You get a friend back. No, I never shut the door or anything like that. But I know Ted can help this football team.”
The Patriots’ offensive line will see some changes compared to last year’s unit — left guard Joe Thuney departed in free agency while tackle Trent Brown was brought back via trade — but Andrews will again offer stability right in the middle. It sounds as if he is very much looking forward to it.
“Super excited to be back. Super excited to see all the new faces we’ve added,” he said. “This is home. This is a special place to me. The Kraft family is very special to me. The community, the team, the coaches. I enjoy playing here and I want to play here.”