The New England Patriots list of pending free agents was shortened a bit over the weekend. Veteran safety Adrian Phillips, who was set to enter the open market in March, signed a three-year, $14.25 million contract extension to stay in New England through 2024.
One day after the extension was announced, Phillips and the Patriots won their 10th game of the season by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 50-10. After the game, he took the podium to speak, among other things, about his new contract and his motivation to re-sign in New England instead of exploring unrestricted free agency.
“I’m glad to be here,” Phillips said.
“I knew the talks had been going on for a while, but I just stayed out of it just because I wanted to work on the season. Last week, they picked up a lot and then we were able to get something done, we were able to get the agreement. Once I found out I was just happy. It was a big weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Locking up Phillips early is smart business from the Patriots’ perspective. The 29-year-old has been one of New England’s best and most reliable defenders since arriving via free agency from the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020.
Since then, Phillips has rarely left the field. Appearing in 32 of a possible 32 games as a starting safety/linebacker hybrid, he has played 1,560 defensive snaps as well as 273 more on special teams. Along the way, he notched seven interceptions as well as a forced fumble, sack and 189 combined tackles.
This year alone, Phillips has picked off four passes — including one against his old team that was returned for a touchdown — and been on the field for 81 percent of New England’s defensive snaps. Only four of his teammates have seen more action than the veteran defender.
Given his productivity it would not have been a surprise to see Phillips become a popular name on the open market in two months. However, he stayed put for a multitude of reasons.
“Really just the culture,” Phillips said. “I’ve talked about this before but from the outside in you get this stigma about Foxborough, like there’s no fun here, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is. And then you get here and you see like, ‘Ah, it ain’t like that at all.’ It’s really just hard work. You do your job, you win games, you have fun going to the postseason.
“And being able to be coached by somebody like Coach Belichick, who doesn’t want that opportunity? He’s the greatest coach in the game, to me personally. Just being around his mind and his savvy and seeing how he operates, this is where I want to be. This is a city built on football, and I just love it. It was easy for me to be able to get something worked out to stay here.”
With Phillips signed for the next three seasons, the Patriots’ safety position appears to be well-set even in case Devin McCourty decides to call it a career in the near future. Phillips and fellow safety Kyle Dugger are signed through 2024 and 2023, respectively.