To kick off the offseason, the Patriots shored up their depth at two key spots.
Over the weekend, the team resigned swing tackle Conor McDermott and special teamer and captain Matthew Slater to short-term deals. Alex Barth and Mike Kadlick of Patriots Beat broke down why both moves are good deals for the Patriots, and what they mean going forward.
“I like that they brought [McDermott] back,” said Barth. “He stepped in and wasn’t put in a great spot coming in the middle of the season into an offense he never played in, but he held his own at right tackle.”
McDermott, claimed off the Jets practice squad on Nov. 22, ended up starting six games at RT and didn’t allow a sack. He likely won’t slot in as the starter, but he proved he can fill in nicely as a backup.
“The Patriots now have three tackles under contract,” said Barth. “It’s not just that they need starting tackles, they need backups for these guys too. I don’t know if McDermott is your starting right tackle, but I don’t feel terrible if he has to step in and play a game or two.”
The terms of the deal haven’t been revealed, but they’re expected to be similar to those of Matthew Slater’s contract. Slater received a 1-year deal worth $2.52 million, though the cap hit is only $1.32 million. The 16-year veteran not only brings leadership to the New England locker room, he also replenishes a special teams unit that may be down a few key players.
“We don’t know if Cody Davis is going to be back. It sounds like Raekwon McMillan and Mack Wilson are going to be gone,” said Barth. “They were going to be down a lot of core special teams guys anyway, so having one back on a very team-friendly deal, add in the leadership element as well, you can’t hate it.”
Going into the offseason, some weren’t sure if Slater would return for another season. Now that he resigned for 2023-2024, another longtime Patriot, Devin McCourty, may join him.
“I’m not going to sit here and say he’s definitely back,” said Barth, “but I know last year when he said he was considering retiring, he said Matthew Slater was one of the people who talked him into coming back. I thought Slater was as good as retired and now he’s back. I felt the same way about McCourty, but this opens up the door to return.”
These two moves aren’t splashy, but they give the Patriots more flexibility in areas where the roster is currently thin. Once free agency starts on March 15th, New England will pursue bigger names to upgrade its roster even further.