HomeFootball DirtMichael Onwenu Unlikely to be Re-Signed by Patriots; Potential Franchise Tag for...

Michael Onwenu Unlikely to be Re-Signed by Patriots; Potential Franchise Tag for Kyle Dugger

Published on

spot_img

Showing an intriguing skillset at both guard and right tackle, Michael Onwenu is expected to generate extensive interest on the open market. The Patriots have the option of franchise-tagging the former sixth-round pick, but that does not seem like the route the organization will take.

The Pats are expecting Onwenu to depart in free agency, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, who indicates teams are monitoring this situation ahead of what is expected to be a strong free agency derby. Several teams slot Onwenu as the top free agent O-lineman this year, per Fowler. Onwenu is among a number of young guard starters close to hitting the market; the former sixth-rounder’s RT past stands to bolster his case to become a well-paid player soon after the legal tampering period launches free agency.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates]

Seeing their Riley Reiff-centered right tackle plan produce only a handful of snaps in 2023, the Patriots moved Onwenu back outside. He had spent time at RT as a rookie, before settling in at guard in 2021 and 2022. In 2022, ESPN’s pass block win rate metric placed Onwenu eighth among guards. Pro Football Focus slotted the Michigan alum 29th among tackles last season.

Onwenu, 26, joins a host of guards who are coming off their rookie deals. Robert Hunt, Jonah Jackson, Damien Lewis, Jon Runyan Jr. and Ezra Cleveland are weeks away from free agency status. Tackle, however, looks much thinner. Among players seeking their first payday, Jonah Williams headlines the tackle crop. Onwenu could give a team a solution at multiple spots. While this resume overlaps with the swingman job description, Onwenu is far above that level. His next team will pay him to start at either guard or right tackle.

The Patriots losing Onwenu would deal a blow to an offense already light on talent. Trent Brown is expected to depart, and Cole Strange has not yet justified his first-round status. Brown’s latest Pats contract voided this week, Fowler adds, creating a $2MM dead-money charge. Onwenu has made 56 career starts and is coming into his prime. The Pats are looking likely to need new solutions at left and right tackle. Onwenu extension talks did not progress too far, though that came when Bill Belichick was still running the show. Eliot Wolf is believed to be in charge now, creating a sense of uncertainty due to Belichick having been at the top of the Pats’ decision-making pyramid for so long.

In an antiquated setup, all O-linemen remain under one umbrella when it comes to the franchise tag. This results in guards and centers rarely being tagged. Though, the Patriots bucked this trend when they last unholstered their tag; New England cuffed Joe Thuney in 2020. The O-lineman tag is projected to check in around $19.9MM. The Pats have another player residing as a more realistic tag candidate. They are more likely to keep Kyle Dugger off the market, Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal writes.

A Dugger tag is probably on the table, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss, who reminds of the Pats’ run of failures extending highly drafted players in recent years. The team has not extended a homegrown first-, second- or third-round pick since re-signing 2013 third-rounder Duron Harmon in 2017. Dugger qualifies as a candidate to reverse that trend.

Although the safety market basically turned into Jessie Bates and the field last year, teams have been looking into a potential Dugger pursuit for a bit now. It would cost the Pats roughly $16.2MM to tag Dugger. Doing so would buy them time on an extension, as teams have until July 15 to extended tagged players. Jerod Mayo also pointed to the team being more aggressive in free agency recently, Reiss adds. Holding the NFL’s second-most projected cap space (at $69.5MM), the Pats can afford a Dugger tag and have money to spend to address other areas.

Belichick held onto Dugger and Onwenu at the trade deadline, though both were rumored candidates to be moved as the team found itself in the rare position as a potential midseason seller. Dugger played 97% of the Pats’ defensive snaps last season, and with Mayo and DeMarcus Covington sticking around, the former second-round pick offers continuity for a team that just released Adrian Phillips. Dugger played ahead of the veteran in 2023. PFF only ranked Dugger 68th among safeties last season but viewed his 2022 more favorably; the Lenoir-Rhyne alum returned two interceptions for touchdowns that year. Although Dugger has fared better closer to the line of scrimmage, he has nine INTs over the past three seasons.

Latest articles

Observations on QB Prospects: Williams, Patriots, Commanders, Giants

Caleb Williams is still expected to be the first pick in the upcoming draft,...

49ers Re-Sign Wide Receiver Trent Taylor

Returning after a three-year absence, Trent Taylor has agreed to rejoin the San Francisco...

Full NFL first-round draft order, beginning with the Chicago Bears

The 2024 NFL Draft kicks off April 25. We know who will be making...

Teams in NFL: Newton, Lions, Latu, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, Eagles, Broncos, Cardinals, Commanders, Giants, Panthers.

April 16th, 2024 at 4:51pm CST by Sam Robinson On Wednesday, "30" visits came...

More like this

Observations on QB Prospects: Williams, Patriots, Commanders, Giants

Caleb Williams is still expected to be the first pick in the upcoming draft,...

Full NFL first-round draft order, beginning with the Chicago Bears

The 2024 NFL Draft kicks off April 25. We know who will be making...

Teams in NFL: Newton, Lions, Latu, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, Eagles, Broncos, Cardinals, Commanders, Giants, Panthers.

April 16th, 2024 at 4:51pm CST by Sam Robinson On Wednesday, "30" visits came...