After spending the entirety of last season on Injured Reserve, Patriots’ center David Andrews announced his decision to play in 2020 on Sunday. This comes as welcome news for the Patriots, who have the most player opt-outs of any team in the NFL. Andrews will reprise his role as the starting center and anchor of the New England offensive line after dealing with blood clots in his lungs throughout 2019.
“My choice has been made,” said Andrews when asked about the possibility of opting out. “It’s something I feel comfortable with…talking with doctors and my wife, it’s something we feel comfortable with… I’m excited for the opportunity coming up.”
Consistency is Key
An undrafted free agent out of Georgia, David Andrews is another classic Belichick diamond in the rough. Signed to a three-year deal worth just over $1.5 million in 2015, Andrews found playing time, and an eventual starting job, filling in for an injured Brian Stork. Now a captain, he went on to play in 60 of 64 regular season games from 2015 to 2018, all eleven playoff games in that stretch, and three Super Bowls. He will now enter the final year of a three-year, $9 million contract before hitting free agency in 2021.
Consistency on the offensive line proved fruitful during the first four years of his tenure. Andrews, Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, and Marcus Cannon provided Tom Brady a front four he could count on. They also went to three Super Bowls, for what it’s worth. With Cannon opting out of this season, Andrews’ return will pay dividends for the new quarterback, whoever that may be.
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A New Era
Speaking of quarterbacks, David Andrews expressed his excitement for Cam Newton during his conference call on Sunday. “I think it’s going to be an exciting year for us,” said Andrews when asked about Newton joining the Patriots. Andrews echoed the sentiment of Bill Belichick when discussing who will start at quarterback. Noting that both Stidham and Newton will get an opportunity, the 28 year-old center is just happy to be back in action.
On the flip side, Cam Newton should be equally excited by this news. Newton was among the top ten quarterbacks in the sack column every year from 2012 to 2018. For comparison, Tom Brady landed in the top ten just twice during that span. According to Pro Football Focus, David Andrews has recorded a grade of at least 67.0 every year. His highest grade came in 2017, when he recorded an 82.1 and the Patriots went to the Super Bowl.
Now despite this positive news, the state of the Patriots’ roster, and the entire league, remains fluid. As of Sunday, they have the most opt-outs in the NFL with eight so far. Right tackle Marcus Cannon, entering his tenth season with the Patriots, and sixth next to David Andrews on the line, announced his decision last Monday. Replacing the likes him, Dont’a Hightower, and Patrick Chung will be no easy task, but that is the state of the NFL in 2020.
This wasn’t the first impactful roster decision in New England, and it won’t be the last. There is still much to be determined across the NFL, but one thing is certain: the Patriots have their center.