New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 14: Adrian Phillips #21 of the New England Patriots lines up against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Patriots have a handful of key defensive players set to be free agents at the end of the season. However, that number shrunk by one on Saturday.

As first reported by NFL Insider Adam Caplan, the Patriots and safety Adrian Phillips have agreed to a three-year contract extension. The 29-year-old was set to become an unrestricted free agent in March.

Phillips’ new deal is worth $12.75 million, with a maximum value of $14.25 million. There is $7.25 million guaranteed in the contract.

Signed as a free agent before the 2020 season, Phillips has filled a critical role in the Patriots’ defense over the last two years as a box safety. He played 73 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last season, and in 2021 that number has increased to 81 percent – the fifth-highest usage rate on the team. In 31 games in New England, Phillips has totaled 76 tackles, eight pass breakups, four interceptions and a forced fumble.

Beyond being productive, Phillips is also a highly-versatile player. Over the course of the 2021 season alone, he’s played over 100 snaps at five different positions – safety (really split between two positions, deep and box safety), slot cornerback, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and edge rusher. He’s also lined up 85 times as a perimeter cornerback.

With Phillips now under contract long term, the Patriots checked off one big box early. Other pending free agent defensive starters that the team will need to make decisions on include Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower, J.C. Jackson, and Ja’Whaun Bentley.

MORE: Complete Patriots coverage

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.