The 2023 NFL season is just over a month away and the Patriots still have contract extensions they must handle. While tackling them immediately isn’t a necessity, taking care of business sooner rather than later is key to avoiding unnecessary off-field drama between now and the next offseason.
Bill Belichick already extended several key players earlier this offseason such as wide receiver DeVante Parker and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. However, there are more players that must be locked down if New England hopes to be competitive over the next several years.
Keeping players happy and well-paid is paramount in the Patriots’ journey to return to prominence. Here’s a look at the next three players who New England should extend next.
Next Patriots Contract Extensions
1. Hunter Henry
Many Patriots had disappointing 2022 performances and Hunter Henry was no exception. The veteran tight end finished with just 41 catches, 509 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns — his worst performance since being a rookie in 2016.
As underwhelming as that showing was, I have faith that he’ll bounce back this fall. After all, it was only in 2021 that he tallied a career-high 9 TD catches while racking up 600+ yards for the third consecutive campaign.
Another positive trend is that his catch percentage has increased over the last three seasons, from 64.5% to 66.7% to 69.5%.
While a potential bounce-back season is a good reason to extend him, so is the fact that New England doesn’t have many future TE options.
Just like Henry, the trio of Mike Gesicki, Anthony Firkser and Matt Sokol is set to hit free agency in 2024. Considering how Henry would be one of next offseason’s top available TEs, it doesn’t make sense to look at other options.
A one- or two-year ‘prove yourself’ extension is the best solution to avoid tight end purgatory.