Matt Judon explains decision to sign with Patriots in free agency


One of the most important signings of 2021 NFL free agency came with very little fanfare, it appears.

Outside linebacker Matt Judon signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the New England Patriots on March 19, two days after free agency began. Since then, he's been a wrecking ball on the Patriots' defense, with a team-high 11.5 sacks and 12 tackles for loss through 12 games.

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According to Judon, though, New England didn't exactly pull out all the stops to land the two-time Pro Bowler. When NBC Sports' Peter King asked Judon what his meeting with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was like in free agency, Judon responded:

"I didn’t have one. I just signed."

So, Judon committed to New England through 2024 despite never even meeting with Belichick?

"Naw," Judon told King on Sunday after the Patriots' 36-13 win over the Tennessee Titans. "I thought free agency would be like ‘Let’s Make a Deal,' but we went through that legal tampering period, I had a couple ideas where I might go, and then I was working out on the day the deals could get done, and I heard nothing.

"Then we had the offer and I had to decide and boom, it was done."

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Belichick and the Patriots are known to have a businesslike approach, so Judon's recollection isn't too surprising. Still, it's a testament to New England's culture and reputation that Judon chose to sign with the Patriots despite the team's 7-9 record in 2020.


Judon's decision is paying huge dividends, as the 29-year-old ranks third in the NFL in sacks and has emerged as one of the league's best defensive players for an 8-4 Patriots team that has won six games in a row.