New England Patriots: Overlooked center David Andrews makes his mark

Dec 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots center David Andrews (60) in the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots center David Andrews is frequently overlooked, but not by the front office in Foxborough.

Hard work has paid off for New England Patriots center David Andrews The former undrafted free agent struck a deal with Belichick and Co. on May 12. Andrews’ new agreement with New England stretches for three years and is worth a sum of $9 million, having the potential to raise past $11 million if he meets incentives, per Over the Cap.

ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss provided the monetary details on Tuesday. Before the extension, Andrews would make his base salary of $615,000 this year. And if he stayed around in 2018, he would probably get second-round free agent tender, around $3 million, from the Patriots. 

Andrews was a substantial contributor to the team’s Super Bowl LI run, so Belichick and the Patriots’ front office felt compelled to pay him more up front, issuing a signing bonus of $1.6 million and $300,000 in roster bonuses for 2017. In 2017 and 2018 combined, counting extension’s signing bonus, roster bonuses, incentives and yearly salaries, Andrews could make about $4.5 million, which is roughly $1 million more than he would have earned under his old terms.

Coming out of high school, Rivals.com ranked Andrews the No. 9 center in the country before he accepted an offer from Georgia. As a junior for the Bulldogs, he was one of the six finalists for the Remington Trophy, awarded to the finest center in college football. The talented lineman from the SEC weighed in under 300 pounds before the 2015 NFL Draft. While his quickness was an asset, scouts didn’t think his thinner lower body could handle the NFL’s thicker nose tackles.

Still, Andrews had a chance to be productive. Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com said of Andrew at the time that, “while a notch deficient with his size and strength, Andrews will make it tough for a coach to cut him” due to his competitiveness and toughness. Obviously, those are two characteristics the Patriots’ coaching staff loves to see in their players.

In the summer of 2015, fourth-round pick Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell succumbed to injury, which put Andrews at the center position during the preseason. Andrews was the only player on the roster to play every offensive snap through the first seven games of the regular season. This feat drew praise from quarterback Tom Brady.

“He came in and Wendy was there, Stork was there – he’s fighting to make the team,” Brady said, via 247 Sports. “And then, he gets the opportunity and takes advantage of it the way he did was very, very impressive. When I was a rookie, I was the fourth quarterback on the roster. I got to, like, eat nachos before the game.”

Andrews’ clear-cut expertise in 2015 secured him $237,427.11 (according to WEEI), the team’s second-highest performance bonus behind Malcolm Butler.

In 2016, the ex-Bulldog vied for the starting spot against Stork and prevailed. After starting all 16 games in the regular season, Andrews came away with $426,344.26, the highest performance bonus on the squad, per NESN.

Although not one of the highest-paid centers in the the league, Andrews has come close to that level of dependability in many instances. An NFL center needs to possess notable communication skills and a willingness to sacrifice his body when facing pressure up the middle. The 24-year old has exemplified these features, especially his cerebral character.

“He’s probably going to be a coach one day,” left tackle Nate Solder said, via Pats Pulpit. “He has a great mind for the game. He can comprehend so much information, retain that information and disperse that information throughout the O-line. He’s been so pivotal.”

Over the past couple of years, resiliency has defined Andrews’ game. Just take a look at his performance in Super Bowl LI. The Falcons pass rush wrecked the Pats offensive line until the final quarter and through overtime. Still, Andrews finished the game with the Patriots’ second-best offensive rating, 83.1, per Pro Football Focus.

“You’re never out of the fight. Keep throwing punches,” Andrews said after the miraculous overtime victory, according to OnlineAthens.com. “You get back up when you’re down, and that’s what we did.”

No doubt, Belichick will be glad to have someone as reliable and spirited as Andrews for a price that doesn’t break the bank.

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