What Patriots OL Mike Onwenu said about his upcoming free agency and future plans

Patriots

“I’m really just focusing on the now.”

Mike Onwenu is due for a big pay raise this offseason. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Patriots have plenty of decisions to make this offseason.

And while those franchise-altering calls start with Bill Belichick’s future in New England, the Patriots also have over $75 million in cap space this offseason, per OverTheCap.com.

But with over 20 players on their roster set to hit free agency this winter, the Patriots will need to determine how many contributors on that sizable swath of the roster warrant a larger payday in 2024 and beyond.

Count offensive lineman Mike Onwenu as one key cog set to cash in this offseason, especially after the 2020 sixth-round pick solidified that unit this season by swapping over to right tackle.

“For me, I’m really just focusing on the now. The most important. I can’t control whatever that is,” Onwenu told reporters Monday about his future plans. “But I can control the next four games and pour everything into that and make sure I’m doing the right things. Make sure I’m correcting myself.

Make sure I’m trusting myself and my technique and all that. So that’s where I stand. I’m not really paying too much attention. The most important thing to me is the next game this week.”

Even though the 26-year-old Onwenu has downplayed talk about his plans in free agency, he admitted that it’s become a regular topic in the locker room.

“Everyone asks me about it or talks to me about it, but honestly it’s uncontrollable,” Onwenu added. “I don’t know what’s going to happen yet — it hasn’t happened yet. I really focus on what I can focus on. I know it sounds cliche, but at the end of the day you really can’t control it.”

Onwenu started off slowly in 2023, with the right guard laboring out of the gate due to offseason ankle surgery. But since shifting over to right tackle, Onwenu has helped stabilize an O-line that made life miserable for Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe for extended stretches this season.

Not only has Onwenu’s presence pushed both Calvin Anderson and Vederian Lowe further down the depth chart, but he has held his own against some of the top pass rushers in the league.

Despite a rough game against Khalil Mack and the Chargers in Week 13, Onwenu played a key role in keeping T.J. Watt contained during New England’s win over the Steelers on Thursday night.

Onwenu earned high praise from his quarterback in Zappe on Monday for his efforts to keep the pocket clean against the likes of Watt. 

“He actually had the hardest job out of everybody on the field, taking care of T.J. Watt,” Zappe said on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego with Arcand.” “He did a phenomenal job of that. Just kind of looking back at it — we watched the film (Monday) — the offensive line, they really got us going this game.

“All of the credit to them and what they did. Receivers made plays, made it really easy on me just to kind of throw it to them and they made plays. It was a great game for us.”