New England Patriots v Houston Texans
Getty Images

The initial waves of NFL free agency have washed to shore and the New England Patriots look a lot like the team that ended the 2023 season. Sure, the club did make some seismic moves since the end of the year, like moving on from Bill Belichick and trading Mac Jones, but from a free agency standpoint, this new regime led by de facto general manager Eliot Wolf and head coach Jerod Mayo has largely emphasized retaining players rather than adding. It didn't go without a lack of effort, however, as the team did try to land star wideout Calvin Ridley, but ultimately lost out to the Tennessee Titans

Now that the bulk of free agency is starting to show in the rearview mirror and we rocket toward the NFL Draft, let's line up all of New England's signings and re-signings throughout the period and grade them.

Jacoby Brissett (Signed): C+

Jacoby Brissett
NE • QB • #14
View Profile

Brissett's one-year, $8 million deal signals that he's here to be a bridge quarterback or a quality backup with the true answer at the position likely coming via the draft. The veteran is a familiar option for the team as he was selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft and spent his rookie season in Foxborough before being traded to Indianapolis the following summer. Brissett has starting experience and familiarity with new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt from their shared time with the Cleveland Browns. He's a safe signing who doesn't exactly have a high ceiling. 

Mike Onwenu (Re-signed): B+

Re-signing Onwenu was New England's top in-house priority this offseason and it was able to secure him with a three-year, $57 million contract. That's a bit rich, but the move does solidify the right side of the offensive line where Onwenu is expected to play tackle. That right side featuring Onwenu (tackle), Sidy Sow (guard) and Davis Andrews (center) was solid down the stretch, and keeping that continuity will be important in the development of whatever young quarterback the team brings in.

Anfernee Jennings (Re-signed): B

Sneaky good signing here for the Patriots at a reasonable number. The club retained Jennings, a 2020 third-round pick, on a three-year deal that has a reported base value of $12 million and a max value of $24 million. Jennings showed promise last season, particularly in the aftermath of losing Matt Judon for the year due to injury. He put together career-best numbers in 2023, and this is a palatable contract to bring Jennings back on and see if he can continue his ascent. 

Josh Uche (Re-signed): B-

Uche comes back to New England on a one-year deal that has a max value of $8 million. Had you told folks that Uche would sign that type of deal after his breakout 11.5-sack season in 2022, they'd laugh in your face. However, the 25-year-old did put together a rather disappointing year in 2023 where he managed just three sacks and 15 pressures. At this number, it's a worthwhile endeavor for the Patriots to bring Uche back to see if he can rekindle that magic from a couple of seasons ago. For Uche, it's an opportunity to get back on track and possibly cash in next offseason. 

K.J. Osborn (Signed): C+

K.J. Osborn
NE • WR • #2
REC YDs540
View Profile

Osborn has been a solid player over the last few years with Minnesota, but he's hardly the type of wideout who can tilt a game. Heading into free agency, the hope was that the Patriots would be able to attract a top receiver to Foxborough, but it never materialized, which makes Osborn look more like a consolation prize than anything else. Good player and will add depth to the room, but this group needs a true No. 1. 

Kendrick Bourne (Re-signed): B-

Kendrick Bourne
NE • WR • #84
REC YDs406
View Profile

Upon the initial news of Bourne's signing, his reported three-year, $33 million deal was head-scratching, to say the least. However, it's since been reported that Bourne has a base value of $19.5 million with most of the other money coming via performance incentives. That's much easier to digest, particularly for a player recovering from an ACL tear last season. When healthy, Bourne has been New England's most electric receiver, so it's encouraging to see the team keep him aboard without truly breaking the bank as it initially appeared. 

Hunter Henry (Re-signed): B+

Hunter Henry
NE • TE • #85
REC YDs419
View Profile

Henry re-signed with the Patriots to the tune of a three-year, $30 million deal. Throughout his tenure, the veteran tight end has blossomed into a leader in the locker room, which is even more important now with new head coach Jerod Mayo entering the fold. Henry's been a reliable target within New England's offense, particularly in the red zone with 17 touchdowns scored over his three seasons with the team. He'll likely continue to be a go-to target in the passing game for whoever is under center. 

Jalen Reagor (Re-signed): C

Jalen Reagor
NE • WR • #83
REC YDs138
View Profile

It's a low-risk move for New England to retain Reagor on a one-year deal that is just over $1 million. The former first-round pick was able to contribute on special teams in the return game, but likely won't factor much into the passing attack. Realistically, he'll look to try and claw his way through roster cuts this summer. 

Sione Takitaki (Signed): C

There's familiarity between Takitaki and the Patriots via Wolf, who was on the Browns staff when the linebacker was drafted by Cleveland in 2019. He'll likely replace Mack Wilson Sr., who left via free agency, as a rotational off-ball linebacker. 

Austin Hooper (Signed): C

Austin Hooper
NE • TE • #81
REC YDs234
View Profile

Ideally, the Patriots go younger at the tight end spot and add another promising player at this position via the draft, but Hooper is a solid depth piece, especially on a one-year deal that has a max value of $4.25 million. While many will likely remember Hooper best for his days with the Falcons, the now 29-year-old has fallen off a bit as of late. The Patriots mark his fourth team in as many seasons and is best viewed as a depth piece with some pass-catching upside. 

Antonio Gibson (Signed): B

Antonio Gibson
NE • RB • #21
View Profile

While not an Earth-shattering signing, this was a sneaky good move here by New England. The club has lacked a true passing-down back in its offense for quite some time and Gibson could be that as a complement to Rhamondre Stevenson. The 25-year-old has caught at least 40 balls in each of the last three seasons, including a career-high 48 receptions (and 389 yards) in 2023. 

Chukwuma Okorafor (Signed): C+

Judging by Okorafor's one-year contract that has a max value of just over $8 million, he's likely viewed as more of a swing/depth option at tackle for the Patriots than a starter, which is why this move gets a C+. If he ends up being the club's answer at left tackle, you can hammer this grade down to an F. Okorafor does have starting experience (59 starts in 77 career regular-season games) and will only be 27 by the start of the season, but he is best utilized as a depth piece as this key position. In a perfect world, the team drafts a higher-upside tackle and Okorafor can work behind both him and Mike Onwenu. 

Armon Watts (Signed): C

Watts inked a one-year, $2.16 million deal with New England and will slot in as a depth piece behind the likes of Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux. Overall, this is a rather low-risk move that gives the team some depth with a player who has started 21 of his last 49 regular-season games. 

Nick Leverett (Signed): C

Starting left guard Cole Strange did end the 2023 season on injured reserve so it is smart for the Patriots to bring in some depth options at guard in the event that his injury bleeds into 2024. Leverett arrives in Foxborough on a one-year, $1.7 million deal so there is essentially zero financial risk here. He'll join fellow guards Atonio Mafi and Michael Jordan as a possible depth piece along the interior of the New England offensive line. It's worth noting that Leverett did start 10 games at left guard for the Buccaneers in 2022.