Mike Onwenu surely is near the top of the list of pending free agents that the New England Patriots have this offseason.

Given New England’s struggles up front over the past few seasons, it seemed like the 26-year-old offensive lineman would be a priority to re-sign due to his versatility and durability. Onwenu suited up at right guard, right tackle and left guard during his four seasons with the franchise and also played in 32 of 34 games the last two seasons.

But despite what Onwenu can provide to an area of weakness for New England, it’s looking more and more likely that he won’t be back in a Patriots uniform next season.

“Many teams view Onwenu as the top offensive lineman in free agency because of his physicality, quickness and ability to play guard or tackle,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote. “The Patriots essentially know Onwenu isn’t coming back, and he will have high bidders.”

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The Patriots selected Onwenu in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft and watched him blossom into a key cog on the offensive line. He played 99% of the offensive snaps in 2022.

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Onwenu’s potential departure poses even bigger questions for a suspect offensive line that could see plenty of change this offseason. Left tackle Trent Brown seems on his way out after a turbulent campaign while it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that David Andrews hangs up his cleats after eight seasons.

The Patriots did use a good amount of draft capital to fortify their offensive line last year by selecting Jake Andrews, Sidy Sow and Antonio Mafi, but none of the three were impressive in their rookie seasons.

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If the Patriots do say goodbye to Onwenu, it will be just another responsibility put on the plate of first-time head coach Jerod Mayo to make sure the youngsters on the line develop to try to get at least adequate play out of that unit.

Featured image via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images