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Patriots, LB Ja'Whaun Bentley agree to two-year, $18.75M extension

A career year has earned Ja'Whaun Bentley a new deal.

The Patriots and Bentley have agreed to terms on a new, two-year contract extension worth a maximum of $18.75 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per source. Bentley's new contract includes $9 million in fully guaranteed money, per Rapoport.

Bentley began his NFL career as a fifth-round pick of New England and played sparingly as a rookie, but by his third season he took over in a starting role. In each of the last two seasons, he's grown into a legitimate defender, setting career-high marks in tackles (125), sacks (three) and tying his best totals in tackles for loss (five), pass breakups (two) and interceptions (one). Pro Football Focus ranked Bentley as the eighth-best linebacker in the NFL in 2022 and, with the five-year veteran entering a contract year, New England opted to secure his services for the future with a deserved extension.

This isn't simply about rewarding Bentley, though. One day after extending DeVante Parker, the Patriots have cleared additional cap space by agreeing to an extension with Bentley. The combination of newly freed salary for 2023 could improve their chances of signing receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who visited the Patriots in June, and isn't expected to join a team until just before the start of training camp in late July.

If anything, the Patriots have decided to lock up two playmakers in their prime as they attempt to return to prominence in 2023. And it could mean a whole lot more if Hopkins ends up moving to New England.

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