According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero the Patriots are retaining free agent defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale. Terms of the deal were not yet reported. Ekuale has been with the team for the past two seasons, logging a career-high in snaps in 2022 (364, 36 percent) while also recording two sacks.
With Christian Barmore landing on Injured Reserve during the season, Ekuale stepped up as the team's primary sub interior pass rusher. An active player with a quick get-off, he spent his first two seasons in Cleveland and Jacksonville before signing with the Patriots practice squad early in the 2021 season. He was elevated eight times during the season as he's appeared to have carved out a nice role for himself with New England.
Ekluale's reported re-signing follows a trend early in free agency of the Patriots retaining their own players. 10 of their 14 reported signings have been players who were with the team in 2022, including all six of the defensive players. That continuity has value, especially on defense where Devin McCourty's retirement remains the only significant loss.
Offensively, depth options have been added to the offensive line in numbers, while external options like the reported signings of Juju Smith-Schuster and James Robinson should help offset free agency losses of Jakobi Meyers and likely Damien Harris.
With plenty of players still on the market the first week of free agency has established a strong baseline across the roster with more moves and 11 picks in draft capital still to come that should elevate the team beyond their 2022 potential.
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