FOXBORO — Patriots outside linebacker Matthew Judon stayed on the practice field for the entire third day of training camp.
That’s not exactly noteworthy stuff for most players on the Patriots roster, but Judon was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday and spent most of Day 2 on a side field working on conditioning despite not starting camp on the PUP or NFI lists. Red flags were raised and it was wondered aloud whether he was “holding in,” a popular practice among players who are unhappy with their contracts but don’t want to face the fines of not reporting to training camp. Multiple sources told the Herald that Judon was not holding in, and that was evidenced by the fact that the edge defender did participate in team drills Friday.
Judon explained his lack of participation early in training camp as a collaborative process he went through with the organization. He said he spoke to the training staff and coach to make sure he could “move fast the whole practice” by working on his conditioning.
“Me and the guys talked about it, and we both felt like all ‘right, we can do that for two days,’” Judon said. “Then we can ease into things. I’m in my eighth year. I think y’all know what I do on Sundays, occasionally Saturdays, Thursdays, maybe Mondays. And we’ve seen that. We got 90 players out here right now. And so that was kind of in the talks. We’ve got 90 players. Let’s wait a little bit.”
Judon does deserve a raise, however, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Patriots rewarded Judon for his spectacular play through the first two years of his now somewhat outdated contract.
Judon wouldn’t get into too many details about his remuneration.
“I’m happy to be here, man,” he said. “I’m definitely not going to talk about contracts with y’all. Y’all some snitches. But I’m happy that I’m here. I’m happy that I’m a Patriot. And then wherever that goes, it goes. The market changes every day. We’ve seen it the first day of training camp, a whole bunch of people got paid, the market changes every day. But I will not talk about contracts.”
If the Patriots do give Judon a raise, it could come in one of two different ways.
They could simply give him more money like they did for cornerback Stephon Gilmore back in 2020 when they added $5 million to his salary. Of the Patriots can do what the Cincinnati Bengals did this week when they extended edge defender Trey Hendrickson’s salary by one year, tacking on $21 million in new money.
“I actually know Trey personally, and I’m excited for him,” Judon said. “I don’t think he’s had a bad year yet. And so for him to get paid and for his organization to realize like, ‘we want to keep this guy around here for longer,’ that’s good for him as a friend and as a brother to me. I’m happy for Trey.”
We’ll see if they extend the same gratitude to Judon. Both players signed four-year contracts in 2021 and have outplayed those deals.
Judon made it clear Friday that he wants to retire a Patriot, but he also knows that might not be his choice.
“Everything has made it to where I feel like I want to stay here for the rest of my career,” Judon said. “But if that’s not in the cards, that’s not in the cards. I felt like that when I was a rookie. I felt like that my fifth year, but that wasn’t in the cards for me. I don’t get to choose that. I just get to tell y’all how I feel.”
Judon, 30, is currently signed through the 2024 season.