The Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 last season, and if their activity at the start of the negotiating window is any indicator, they're not about to hunker down for another year of disappointment.
Matt Judon has agreed to a four-year deal with New England worth $56 million, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Monday, per a source informed of the situation. The contract includes $32 million over the first two years of the deal, Pelissero added.
Judon, No. 9 in Gregg Rosenthal's Top 101 free agents of 2021, played the 2020 season on the franchise tag with the Ravens, the club that selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Grand Valley State, and becomes the second big name to leave Baltimore's defensive front for a payday with a contending team in the last three years (the other being Za'Darius Smith, who departed for Green Bay in 2019). He brings with him 34.5 career sacks recorded in five seasons (including four straight seasons of six-plus sacks) to go along with 233 tackles (54 for loss), 102 QB hits, 10 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and Pro Bowl appearances in each of his last two campaigns.
Judon rose from unheralded player to key defender with the Ravens and he's being paid like one in New England, making an average of $14 million per year, which is good money, but below the franchise tag number of $16.8 million he received in 2020.
Mills, meanwhile, comes to New England on a relatively affordable deal at $6 million per year and $9 million guaranteed.
Previously seen as a corner, Mills shifted to safety in Philadelphia in 2020, occupying a hybrid role to help the Eagles fill the void left by Malcolm Jenkins' departure to the Saints. Mills could assume a similar role with the Patriots, making for a versatile piece in New England's defense, a group that needs help after struggling plenty last season.
The return of key players like Dont'a Hightower and Patrick Chung (both COVID-19 opt-outs) will bolster the unit, which should be much stronger with the additions of Judon, Mills, the re-signing of defensive end Deatrich Wise and the addition of former Dolphins defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. Indeed, the signings kept coming on an eventful Monday for the Patriots, who also agreed to terms with former Jets starting defensive lineman Henry Anderson on a two-year deal for $7 million with a max of $11 million, Rapoport reported.