While the 2023 season is still in full swing, the New England Patriots can already start keeping an eye on the future. Not only are they currently on track to earn a top-3 selection in the upcoming draft and are likely to undergo a rebuild on the offensive side of the ball, they also hav several players scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency.
Among those are the four remaining members of the team’s 2020 draft class: safety Kyle Dugger, edge defenders Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings, and offensive lineman Michael Onwenu. So far, there has not been any movement regarding possible contract extensions.
At least one player, however, senses some mutual interest in staying put beyond his expiring rookie contract.
“We’ve talked a bit. I’m not at liberty to give you all the details, but it’s mutual,” Uche told reporters this week (as transcribed by MassLive’s Karen Guregian).” The organization would love me to be here, and I would love to be here as well. There’s just some fine-tuning and some things and details that need to be worked out to make it a possibility. But right now, it’s hard to say [what will happen] and everything gets smoothed out.”
Uche was the second player drafted by the Patriots in 2020, joining the team as the 60th overall selection that year. While not quite developing into a true three-down outside linebacker, the Michigan product has found some success as a rotational pass rusher.
That success of course, has come in spurts. Uche registered only four sacks over his first 22 games as a Patriot; in the 23 since he has notched 13.5 takedowns, but only two in eight games so far.
Whether that will be enough for the Patriots to extend an acceptable offer remains to be seen. What Uche’s production so far did not do, however, was generate any serious trade interest: despite him being seen as a potential candidate to be moved, push never realistically came to shove ahead of late October’s deadline.
The 25-year-old pointed out that he did speak with the club ahead of said deadline.
“The conversation I had was a mutual thing where the organization wanted me here, and of course, I wanted to finish my career where I started,” he said. “But things like that are out of my control. There’s a situation where if a deal or something was enticing, I would have gotten moved.”
Nothing of the sort happened, putting Uche on track to at leas finish his rookie contract with the team that selected him in the second round almost four years ago. And if he gets his wish, that would only be the first chapter of his Patriots story.
“To finish out my career with the guys I started would be great,” Uche added. “I would like to see it through. I was in a similar situation at Michigan. Things were kind of difficult. In college, you can transfer and leave, but that’s not how I was raised. I want to finish something that I started. That’s just how I am.”