The contract extensions keep on coming from the offices at 1 Patriot Place. Not even 24 hours after Bill Belichick dished out a three-year extension to DeVante Parker, he gives the anchor of his defense, Ja'Whaun Bentley, a two-year 18.75 million dollar extension with nine million in guarantees. Some fantastic news for the Patriots, courtesy of Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network.
Why the Ja'Whaun Bentley Extension Makes Sense for New England
Now that Devin McCourty is out of the picture, the Patriots have predictably looked towards some of their secondary leaders to step up, and according to de-fact co-Defensive Coordinator Jerod Mayo, Bentley has stepped up to the plate in the offseason program.
He is very smart, knows the entire defense. He's fast, big, strong at the point of attack. He's just a great player. ... With the loss of Devin, it's going to take multiple people, but what I will say is that Bentley will be a huge cornerstone to that rebuild." - via Mike Reiss (ESPN)
On the field, Bentley has progressively gotten better in each of his five years in the league. He recently racked up career highs in tackles (125) and sacks (3), as well as up his second career interception. With the demand for hyper-athletic defenders at the second level to keep up with modern NFL offenses, there is still value in having a guy like Bentley who fills that old-school niche of simply being a downhill mauler. Not that he can't cover per se, he's gotten much better in that area as of late, but the former is where he truly shines. His ability to process what's happening in front of him isn't too shabby either, might I add.
Now looking at the money dished out, the Patriots are getting some excellent value here. However, without knowing the finer details of this deal as of today, all we have to go off of are the reported numbers. The average annual value puts him as the eighth highest-paid linebacker in the league, in between DeVondre Campbell of the Green Bay Packers and DeMario Davis of the New Orleans Saints. The nine million given to Bentley in practical guaranteed money brings the guarantee percentage to 48 percent, which for pure linebackers puts him well into the upper quadrant of the league among pure linebackers. Additionally, this deal for Bentley is the most money a linebacker has been paid at age 27 of anyone in the league, eclipsing Josey Jewell of the Denver Broncos by a few million dollars.
All things considered, this is a great move for the Patriots to lock up a key piece to the puzzle on defense through his age-29 season. Not to mention the fact that this move further helps out the Patriots in the salary cap (is fake) department in 2023 according to Mark Daniels of MassLive. I wouldn't say this means a move for DeAndre Hopkins is imminent, but I also don't think they would be clearing cap space this year just for the vibes. But speaking of vibes, they will be immaculate this fall/winter with Bentley, Marte Mapu, and Kyle Dugger roaming the middle third.
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