Grading the Patriots' Offseason One Week In: What is the Plan in Foxborough?

2024 will be the first offseason in over two decades without Belichick at the helm, and the new-look Patriots have quite a bit of work to do.

Jan 17, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo (L) and owner Robert Kraft
Jan 17, 2024; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo (L) and owner Robert Kraft / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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Key signings:

Aug 10, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) throws a pass
Aug 10, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) throws a pass / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots sign LB Sione Takitaki to a 2 year, $6.5 million contract ($10M maximum)

After losing Mack Wilson Sr. to Arizona, New England was always going to bring in a linebacker, and Takitaki comes over from Cleveland in what should be an excellent fit. The 28-year old has been consistent during his five-year stint with the Browns, playing at least 12 games in every season. He fills multiple roles - he's a run-stopper who can slot in as a MLB, OLB, or DE, and he played all of those positions for a top-tier Cleveland defensive unit last year. Takitaki can also play special teams, an area in which he excelled for the Browns.

Value-wise, it's a solid deal. At just $3.3 million guaranteed AAV, his contract puts him right in line with a Kenneth Murray or a Jordyn Brooks, and gives the Patriots flexibility to keep spending in other areas. He feels like a value buy, and in the worst-case scenario? It's an easy contract to dump. Sure, he's not a home-run, game-changing acquisition, but filling a key position with a consistent veteran on the cheap is a good piece of business.

Grade: B

Patriots sign RB Antonio Gibson to a 3 year, $11.25 million contract ($17.25M maximum)

Gibson arrives from Washington a year after compiling 654 all-purpose yards, the majority of which came on receptions. The fifth-year man has had some success in the NFL, winning the Commanders' starting job as a rookie and notching two seasons with more than 1000 all-purpose yards. However, his 2023 season was something of a disappointment; Gibson started a career-low two games, and saw only 65 rushing attempts, down from 258 in 2021.

He provided value as a receiver, though. The 25-year old averaged 8.1 yards per reception, and a career-high 5.8 yards per touch; his move to the bench was more a result of Brian Robinson Jr.'s emergence than it was Gibson's struggles. Standing at a strong 6'2", 220 lbs, he also profiles as an effective pass-blocker, and should instantly become New England's third-down back.

I like Gibson, and I understand the train of thought, but I just don't love the value in spending money on running backs. He feels like a profile easily attainable through a late-round draft pick, and if he reaches his incentives, this suddenly becomes a three-year deal worth close to $6 million AAV. Again, not the end of the world, and I appreciate the additional weaponry on offense, but I would've attacked the position in a different way.

Grade: C

Patriots sign QB Jacoby Brissett to a 1 year, $8 million contract

He's back! Brissett might not be the triumphant quarterback return we all dreamed of, but the nine-year veteran is back with his first franchise after spending the last eight bouncing around the league. Brissett is not a high-level starting QB - he's proven as such, but he provides some much-needed experience and a steady hand to a quarterback room that will almost certainly include a prized rookie before too long. Not to mention, he knows the organization, knows the culture, and can help make the transition easier for new head coach Jerod Mayo.

It almost feels like a backstory with Brissett, but he's also been a respectable NFL quarterback when he's gotten opportunities to play. Since leaving the Pats all those years ago, the 31-year old has started 46 games, tossing 51 touchdowns to just 23 interceptions and completing 61% of his passes. If the Patriots need to call Brissett into action this year, they can do so with the confidence he'll give them a chance to win. Overall, he profiles as an excellent culture signing who can still give the team some quality should they need it, and $8 million is terrific value for a quarterback.

Grade: B+

Patriots sign OT Chukwuma Okorafor to a 1 year, $4 million contract

The Okorafor deal is similar to the Takitaki deal - a cheap, consistent veteran who provides valuable depth. The six-year veteran should add some stability, - Okorafor started at least 15 games in each season between 2020-22, and he's only committed five holding penalties over a 77-game career. His 2023 season wasn't up to his usual standards - he only started in seven of 14 games for a bad Steelers line - but, at just 26 years old, the Pats are taking a small, calculated risk that he can return to form. Again, it's not the sexiest acquisition, but this is the kind of shrewd move that good teams make. His presence should help a New England offensive line that was one of the worst units in football in 2023.

Grade: B