New England Patriots Extend Linebacker

The New England Patriots are locking up one of the cornerstones of their defense. According to ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, the team has signed starting linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley to a two-year extension worth up to $18.75 million.

Bentley was set to earn a little over $4.2 million in the final year of a two-year, $6 million deal signed in 2022, so the Patriots must be delighted with what they saw from the 26-year-old last season. This new contract represents a substantial pay bump for the former fifth-round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft and should keep him on the team through the 2025 season.

Bentley has emerged as a reliable and sturdy starter over the past three seasons, totalling 46 starts and a team-high 325 total tackles over that span. The Patriots are committing to him just as his skills are cresting; his 125 stops in 2022 were a career-high, and his 80.4 overall grade from Pro Football Focus is his best since a rookie season in which he played a mere 138 snaps.

Bentley is a true success story in the NFL, an unheralded player who has quietly clawed his way to prominence on one of the league's premier franchises. The Patriots' defense is in the middle of one of its best runs since head coach Bill Belichick joined the team; they've finished eighth or better in yards allowed in three of the past four years, a feat they've never achieved at any other point in their dynastic run. Bentley is a huge part of that, and his continued presence will help the Patriots sustain that success.

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