The New England Patriots are keeping one of their defensive players who has been on the rise on the roster for the foreseeable future. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai agreed to a two-year, $4.4 million extension that will keep him with the Patriots through the end of the 2024 season, ESPN’s Field Yates first reported Tuesday. Bill Belichick confirmed the deal at his Tuesday press conference.

Tavai has been one of the Patriots’ most pleasant surprises this season. Entering the season, Tavai wasn’t commonly seen as a player who could be a factor in the linebacker situation after the team revamped the position over the offseason. However, Tavai has played the second-most snaps at linebacker this season (52.4 percent).

Tavai has produced in the time he has been on the field. He has recorded 38 combined tackles so far this season (18 solo, 20 assisted) with two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. He has also been credited for 14 stops. Tavai has been fine in pass coverage, too. Opposing quarterbacks have completed 8-of-11 passes when targeting him this season for 44 yards with zero touchdowns and interceptions, good for a passer rating of 79.4.

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Tavai’s solid 2022 season comes after he struggled through his first seasons in the league. Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the 26-year-old was one of the worst-graded linebackers in football in 2020, receiving a 32.1 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus that season. The Lions cut Tavai prior to the start of the 2021 regular season, leading to his eventual signing with the Patriots. Tavai mostly played on special teams in 2021.

Jahlani Tavai is one of two off-ball linebackers under contract for the Patriots in 2023, with Ja’Whaun Bentley being the other. Tuesday’s contract extension won’t make too much of a dent into the cap space New England is projected to have in 2023. The Patriots were expected to have $52.5 million in cap space for the 2023 season prior to Tavai’s extension, which is the third-most in the NFL.