BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots have locked up their starting center for the foreseeable future. David Andrews has reportedly agreed to a three-year extension that will keep him signed through the 2020 season.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss first broke the news of the agreement. Andrews was set to become a restricted free agent after the 2018 season before agreeing to the extension.
The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe tweeted on Friday morning that the three-year deal is worth a base value of $9 million, with the chance to be as much as $11 million through incentives.
Andrews signed with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia in 2015. He went on to start the first 10 games of his rookie season as a fill-in for the injured Bryan Stork, eventually supplanting Stork as the permanent starter. According to Reiss, Andrews was just the third undrafted free agent to start in the season opener, along with defensive lineman Jace Sayler in 2001 and wideout Kenbrell Thompkins in 2013.
He went on to start all 16 games at center in the 2016 regular season and all three playoff games, including the Patriots’ overtime win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
Andrews earned a 79.5 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2016 – not a bad grade, but it ranked just 22nd in the NFL at the position.
Still, Bill Belichick is known for saying “Dependability is more important than ability.” According to PFF, Andrews played the most total snaps (1,355) of all centers in the league. That’s the kind of durability that Belichick often values over pure talent, especially at a tough, physical position like center. With his extension, Andrews is being rewarded for his dependability as much as anything.
Out of the eight players the Patriots have signed through at least the 2020 season, three are offensive linemen: Andrews, right tackle Marcus Cannon (signed through 2021), and rookie sixth-round pick Conor McDermott.
Despite the uncertain future of left tackle Nate Solder, who is on track to hit unrestricted free agency in 2018, much of the Patriots’ offensive line is secure for the long-term.