Following a busy first week, the initial wave of the NFL’s 2019 free agency period is starting to slow down a bit. This, in turn, gives us a chance to take a look back at what happened from a New England Patriots’ perspective. We already recapped the action earlier today, and will now take a look at the impact the moves will have on the team and who appear to be the winners and losers this early during the process.
Winner: OT Isaiah Wynn
With the Patriots losing both Trent Brown and top backup LaAdrian Waddle, the road is clear for Isaiah Wynn to take over as the team’s new left tackle. While New England could (and likely will) still add more depth at the position either during the draft or free agency, the team appears to be confident in Wynn’s abilities to step into a starting role at this point in time — despite the 2018 first-round draft pick coming off a season-long stint on injured reserve.
Loser: QB Tom Brady
For the second year in a row, the supporting cast around Tom Brady is undergoing a transformation process: the aforementioned Trent Brown has joined the Oakland Raiders, while only one of the team’s three free agent wide receivers has been re-signed. Furthermore, the players brought in — wideouts Bruce Ellington and Maurice Harris, tight end Matt LaCosse — appear to be little more than depth options at this point in time. That being said, 2018 has taught us that Brady can still play at a high level even without star power surrounding him at all positions.
Winners: WR Phillip Dorsett & WR Braxton Berrios
The Patriots reportedly expressed at least some level of interest in big-name wide receivers such as Adam Humphries, Cole Beasley and Golden Tate — all three of which ultimately signed elsewhere, however. This, in turn, bodes well for the wideouts returning in 2019: recently re-signed Phillip Dorsett and 2018 sixth-round draft pick Braxton Berrios could both take on bigger roles in New England’s offense this season.
Winner: The cornerback depth chart
New England has one of the best secondaries in football, and the club made sure it stayed this way. Not only did the Patriots re-sign unrestricted free agent cornerback Jason McCourty to a two-year, $10 million contract, it also placed the second-round tender sheet — essentially a one-year, $3.1 million deal — on Jonathan Jones. Both McCourty and Jones are coming off successful 2018 campaigns and should play important roles in New England’s defense moving forward.
Losers: TE Jacob Hollister, TE Ryan Izzo & TE Stephen Anderson
Even though the Patriots released their second tight end, Dwayne Allen, before free agency started, the roster standing of depth options Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo and Stephen Anderson did not improve. After all, the club opted to invest $4.8 million on a two-year deal in the aforementioned Matt LaCosse. While the new acquisition is not a roster lock, he is more proven than his three competitors and appears to have the inside track to earn a roster spot alongside superstar Rob Gronkowski (if he indeed returns).
Winners: DT Lawrence Guy & DT Adam Butler
When the free agency market opened on Wednesday, the Patriots had only two members of their 2018 defensive tackle depth chart under contract: Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler, both locks to be on the 2019 team as well. Luckily for the two, the team brought in Mike Pennel on a two-year deal to serve as an early-down run stuffer and experienced addition to the rotation. Having a player of Pennel’s quality should help keep the defensive tackle rotation intact and in turn Guy and Butler fresh.
Winner: Deatrich Wise Jr.
New England lost two members of its defensive edge group last week: Trey Flowers signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Detroit Lions, while Adrian Clayborn was released shortly afterwards. Even though the team also added veteran Michael Bennett via trade, the moves reflect that the team is feeling at least somewhat confident in Deatrich Wise Jr’s abilities to continue his growth into a vital member of New England’s front seven. To a lesser degree, the same might also apply to Derek Rivers.