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2022 NFL free agency: Patriots decline to tender restricted free agent Jakob Johnson

Related: Patriots free agency tracker: News, rumors, signings, instant analysis

Los Angeles Chargers - New England Patriots Photo by Maximilian Haupt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Jakob Johnson is headed for the open market. As was announced by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, the New England Patriots have declined to use a restricted free agency tender to keep their fullback in the fold for another year.

While that does not necessarily mean that Johnson will play elsewhere in 2022, he is set to test the free agency waters on March 16.

Johnson, 27, originally joined the Patriots via the NFL’s International Pathway Program in 2019. He has been with the club ever since, and has made his way from the bottom of the roster, to the practice squad, to the active roster.

Following James Develin’s retirement in 2020, Johnson eventually took over as New England’s featured fullback and has now appeared in a combined 38 regular season and playoff games over three seasons. Last year, he appeared in all 18 of the team’s games and was on the field for 325 of a possible 1,169 offensive snaps (27.8%).

While Johnson only touched the football four times — he caught four passes for a combined 43 yards — he played a valuable role, serving as a lead-blocker in the running game. He also was a regular contributor in the kicking game and ended the season with the ninth most special teams snaps on the team.

The Patriots had three different options to tender Johnson. They could have either used the first- or second-round levels at a cost of $5.562 million or $3.986 million, respectively, or gone with the original round tender which would have given them the right of first refusal.

That tender would have cost New England $2.433 million, but they apparently decided that Johnson was not worth that kind of investment.