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Patriots' Josh Uche Signs 'Prove It' Contract

Linebacker Josh Uche reportedly turned down better offers to remain with the New England Patriots on a one-year contract.

FOXBORO — New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche is no stranger to cultivating dreams instead of doubts. 

Since joining the Pats as a rookie out of Michigan in 2020, the 25-year-old has seen his share of both struggle and success. Still, he remains confident in letting his talent tell the ultimate tale. 

The Patriots and Uche reportedly have agreed to a one-year, $3 million contract for the upcoming season. With incentives, the deal has the chance to reach $8 million in total. 

While those are hardly numbers to dismiss for the average NFL fan, they can be considered somewhat below market value for a player of Uche's caliber. In fact, NFL Network reported that Uche may have left more than a few lucrative deals on the table to re-sign with New England. 

Why, one may ask? 

Though that question may best be left to Uche to answer, it appears he has something to prove both to the Patriots, and himself. 

Patriots - Josh Uche

Despite being one of the most highly-touted Patriots' rookies just three seasons ago— selected at No. 60 overall in the second round in the 2020 NFL Draft — Uche’s 2021 season did not exactly live up to expectations. His placement on injured reserve in mid-November (resulting from an ankle injury) stalled a season in which he had been used sporadically.

However, Uche used his speed, athleticism and system savvy to become a significant factor in the Patriots defense both as an edge rusher, and as an off-the-ball linebacker in 2022. Alongside fellow linebacker Matthew Judon, Uche helped provide the Pats with one of the more formidable pass-rushing tandems in the NFL last season. New England tied for third in the NFL with 54 sacks. Uche finished the season with a career-high 11.5 sacks, 27 total tackles (nine for loss), 14 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles. In fact, Uche's three-sack performance (his second such outing of the season) in Week 14 against the Arizona Cardinals earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

While many within Patriots Nation expected both Judon and Uche to once again form the dynamic pass rush duo, an injury to the former derailed that chance. Judon sustained a torn bicep tendon while attempting to make a tackle in Week 4 against the Dallas Cowboys. Without the "Batman" to his "Robin," Uche's production experienced a statistical dip in 2023. In 15 games, Uche logged 15 total tackles (three for loss) and three sacks.  

With Judon expected to start the season healthy, Uche appears to be betting on both familiarity and talent to prove his doubters wrong. With a fully-stocked corps of linebackers, he will be able to exhibit greater freedom in his playing style. Uche's skill set, when utilized at its best, allows him to play on the line in the Patriots’ 5-1 looks as well as their 4-2 and 4-3 alignments. He may also move back if they run a more traditional 3-4. Simply put, Uche looks to be comfortable within the Patriots defensive system and is counting on that to continue under new head coach Jerod Mayo and coordinator DeMarcus Covington. 

As such, the ex-Wolverine is about to enter a "prove-it" year in 2024. Whether it means finding his multi-year deal in New England, or elsewhere, Uche seemingly believes that remaining with the Pats this season provides him with the best chance to reestablish his place among the NFL's most exciting and perhaps fearsome defenders.  

Perhaps with a bit more swagger in his saunter, he will continue to work toward his most important goal — providing both he and the Patriots with as much success as possible. 

Accordingly, the spoils would then be his.