While the New England Patriots’ middling roster was in dire need of fresh faces, the team has wisely put an emphasis on retaining homegrown talents who are essential to locker room morale and carrying out their acclaimed no-nonsense culture.
Just in the last few days, the Patriots have inked deals to bring back center David Andrews and running back James White, as well as defensive line tandem Deatrich Wise and Lawrence Guy, each of whom will fit perfectly alongside the team’s truckload of free agent signings.
Amazingly enough, the string of re-signings didn’t mark the end of the Patriots’ retaining some of their most unheralded in-house talents.
Per ESPN insider Adam Schefter, New England has signed fullback Jakob Johnson to a one-year contract after they tendered him as an exclusive rights free agent, which all but guaranteed he’d be back, marking yet another transaction that will resonate with the fan base.
The Patriots have re-signed fan favorite Jakob Johnson to a one-year deal.
The Patriots tendering Johnson as an exclusive rights free agent prohibited him from negotiating with other teams, so it really isn’t surprising that a deal ultimately got done between both sides. Still, however, this will go down as another offseason move that will be crucial in terms of relaying the team’s culture to the wave of newcomers.
A German native, Johnson has actually had multiple stops in New England. He was first signed by the Patriots as a free agent as part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program in 2019, only to be released that preseason and signed back to the practice squad a few days later.
Since then, Johnson has carved out a nice role for himself. After getting eased in as a rookie two years ago, the Tennessee product appeared in every game last season (11 starts) and played 37% of the offensive snaps, securing eight catches for 35 yards and a touchdown. He also had a key role on special teams, playing 170 snaps, which was good for a 43% snap share.
Johnson has yet to log a rushing attempt, but that could change next season given how crafty the coaching staff likes to get around the goal line.
With him and White back in the fold, Rex Burkhead, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 11 of last season, is now the only weapon from the 2020 running back room that is no longer with the Patriots…yet.