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NFL free agency 2023: 5 winners and 2 losers from Day 1 of the Patriots’ legal tampering period

The first 12 hours of free agency action are in the books.

The NFL opened its so-called legal tampering window on Monday, and in the subsequent hours some big moves were made throughout the league. One team taking a rather passive approach were the New England Patriots.

The team made three transactions: trading tight end Jonnu Smith to the Atlanta Falcons and re-signing both cornerback Jonathan Jones and defensive tackle Carl Davis. Meanwhile, no outside help was brought in despite the club sitting relatively comfortably at currently $28.4 million in salary cap space.

What does all of this mean for the Patriots’ other players, though? Let’s find out who may or may not have benefitted from Monday’s action.

Winner: TE Hunter Henry. It could have been him. Henry, like Jonnu Smith, had a disappointing season in 2022 and a contract that also would have been made sense to offload via trade. However, the team decided to part ways with Smith instead and giving Henry the clear TE1 title — for now, at least.

Winners: OT Conor McDermott and OT Andrew Stueber. Even ahead of the tight end position, the Patriots’ right tackle spot is arguably the biggest weakness on the offensive side of the ball. And yet, New England did not aggressively come out to bring two of the top free agents aboard: Mike McGlinchey joined the Denver Broncos; Jawaan Taylor signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

While Orlando Brown Jr. remains unsigned for now, and a player to watch, and there are rumblings about Houston shopping Pro Bowler Laremy Tunsil, the Patriots did not yet make an investment. From the perspective of the two right tackles on the roster — Conor McDermott and Andrew Stueber — that is a win.

Winners: LB Jahlani Tavai and LB Raekwon McMillan. Similar to the right tackle spot, the Patriots also appeared to be in the market to upgrade at linebacker. Ja’Whaun Bentley currently sits atop the depth chart, but his running mates Jahlani Tavai and Raekwon McMillan are players who would likely be impacted by any high-profile additions.

So far, none have happened. In fact, several of the best free agents available — Tremaine Edmunds, Germaine Pratt, Bobby Okereke, T.J. Edwards — have signed with other teams already.

Loser: CB Myles Bryant. The Patriots were able to re-sign Jonathan Jones for two more years, locking up their CB1 from a year ago. So, how does that impact Bryant? The team might very well decide to move the veteran back into his previous spot in the slot, which in turn would mean that Bryant would lose the starting role he held in 2022.

To make matters worse, it might also mean that New England might opt not to keep Bryant around at all. As a restricted free agent, he has to be tendered ahead of Wednesday’s 3:59 p.m. ET deadline. If not, he enters the open market.

Loser: QB Mac Jones. The Patriots did not upgrade at right tackle, traded away their No. 2 tight end, and did not address the wide receiver spot (by, for example, re-signing Jakobi Meyers or Nelson Agholor). At the moment, the unit around the third-year passer has, if anything, taken a step back from a depth perspective.

That might very well change in the coming days, but for now that is where New England stands on the offensive side of the ball.