When it comes to forecasting the short- and long-term future of the New England Patriots, many start by looking at the impending free agencies of Josh Uche, Michael Onwenu, and Kyle Dugger.
However, another key cog of this team that should not be overlooked is linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who is also set to hit free agency at the conclusion of the 2023 season.
When speaking with reporters on Tuesday down at Gillette Stadium, Bentley shared how he remains focused during a contract season.
“I keep the main thing the main thing,” Bentley said. “I can’t really worry about what everybody else is saying. If you do, you’ll lose your mind. There’s a lot of stuff going on, and that can’t be the main thing on the table.
“When it comes to me, I’d say this as my advice to young guys too: ‘Just keep the main thing the main thing, don’t worry about the outside noise.’ Cause that’s all it is, outside noise, and you can’t do anything about it. So, just be in the moment and at the end of the day, you’ve gotta make the most out of the opportunities you have.’”
Throughout his career, Bentley has improved statistically each and every season. Another strong campaign in 2023 will likely earn Bentley a raise from the two-year deal that was worth up to $9 million he signed in March of 2022.
“I would say I feel like every player’s goal is year in and year out is just improve,” Bentley said. “I’ve just made that my goal. Not even from year to year but game to game, find that improvement and not let it be a cliché term but actually put action to it and critiquing yourself. A lot of people say they’re their own worst critic but unless you show action behind it, it’s really kind of just words.
“I just try to improve daily. Whether that be physically, leadership qualities, all the intangibles that come with it and bringing guys along with me. It’s no fun when you're doing it by yourself.”
Beyond his improvements on the field, Bentley has also grown as a leader throughout his time in New England. The linebacker was voted a team captain in both 2020 and 2022, and now will be a big part in helping replace the leadership void left by long-time captain Devin McCourty’s retirement.
“I would say he’s always had great leadership skills,” Jerod Mayo said of Bentley earlier this offseason. “And obviously with the loss of Devin — I know Coach [Belichick] said it’s going to take multiple people. But what I will say is that Bentley will be a huge cornerstone to that rebuild.”
With the improvement on and off the field throughout Bentley’s five-year tenure in New England, it would be no surprise to see the Patriots prioritize the soon-to-be 27-year old next offseason.