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What re-signing free agent offensive tackle Conor McDermott means for the Patriots

New England will keep the veteran tackle around.

NFL: New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots had a busy weekend. Not only did they announce the return of long-time team captain Matthew Slater for another year, they also reportedly re-signed offensive tackle Conor McDermott to a new contract.

McDermott was scheduled to enter unrestricted free agency next month, but instead will remain with the Patriots. While no details of the deal have been announced just yet, it will cover at least the 2023 season.

So, with that in mind, let’s find out what it means for the team.

New England likes what it saw from McDermott: Originally joining the team as a sixth-round selection in the 2017 draft, McDermott left the Patriots that same year after getting released on cutdown day. He spent time in Buffalo and New York before returning off the Jets’ practice squad back in November.

While brought aboard as an emergency depth option following injuries suffered by Isaiah Wynn, Marcus Cannon and Yodny Cajuste, he established himself as the top option at right tackle and apparently did a good enough job to be be kept around. Given that the team has no clear starter option under contract at the position at the moment, McDermott appears to be in line to compete for the job.

The Patriots have three tackles under contract for 2023: With McDermott remaining in the fold, New England now has three tackles signed for the upcoming season: starting left tackle Trent Brown, sophomore Andrew Stueber, who missed virtually all of 2022 due to a hamstring injury, and now McDermott.

While Brown and McDermott have starter-level experience, the current depth chart only adds to the belief that upgrading the offensive tackle spot is the Patriots’ number one priority this offseason.

Adrian Klemm will get to work with his former pupil: New England’s new offensive line coach, Adrian Klemm, started his coaching career at the college level — including five seasons at UCLA. While with the Bruins, who also coached McDermott: the two arrived alongside each other and spent their entire tenures with the school together.

McDermott started 31 games at left tackle for UCLA under Klemm and was voted second-team All-Pac-12 twice before departing to enter the draft.

The list of Patriots free agents is down to 19: With McDermott in the fold, one name can get crossed from New England’s list of free agents-to-be. That leaves the team with 19 players left to be accounted for. Of course, one of those — Matthew Slater — is expected to sign a new contract soon if he has not already.

Among the remaining free agents are three more offensive tackles: Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon are headed for unrestricted free agency, with Yodny Cajuste a restricted free agent.