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Bargain Hunters: Patriots Own NFL's Top Contracts?

New England has a few players that have proven to be more than worth the money

FOXBORO — The New England Patriots have been smart with player contracts over the past several years. In fact, Bill Belichick has earned himself quite the reputation of being able to find a lot of great value whether it is late in the draft, or signing veteran players to incentive-laden type deals. 

Given the amount of success Belichick has had during his long tenure in New England, it's hard to really question his philosophy.

Pro Football Focus this week released its annual ranking of the top 32 contracts in the NFL, and New England had two guys make the list at No. 17 and at No. 20.

No. 17 — Kendrick Bourne (3 years, $22 million)

Bourne signed his contract in 2021. Luckily for Belichick, he bought into the "Patriot Way" from the start, and his steady production on the field back that up. He finished his first season in New England with a career-best 55 catches for 800 yards and five touchdowns. He also proved to be a good locker room guy and teammate as he always brought good energy to the practice field every day. After developing a strong on-field connection with quarterback Mac Jones last year, Bourne is a candidate to be a 1,000-yard receiver this season.

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No. 20 — Matthew Judon (4 years, $54 million)

Judon, who signed his deal in the Spring of 2021, was arguably the most consistently impactful player on the roster in 2021. In fact, he led the team with 12.5 sacks. No other Patriot had more than five. In fact, Josh Uche and Deatrich Wise Jr. contributed three sacks each. Also, Judon's 61 quarterback pressures last year put him 12th among edge rushers. He now has three years and $34.5 million left on that deal.

Buccaneers' receiver Mike Evans, Raiders' tight end Darren Waller, Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and Tampa's Tom Brady were some of the notable names also atop PFF's list.

PFF's top contract went to Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle, Jordan Mailata, who inked a four-year, $64 million deal with $40.85 million guaranteed.

As for the Patriots, they will surely need to spend more at the top of the market next season to keep pace with the rest of the conference, which is now loaded with playoff contenders after a wild offseason of player movement. But for now, they've at least proven they still have an eye for finding talent at a low price.