According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Patriots continued to solidify their offensive line depth this week, re-signing veteran interior utility man James Ferentz. ESPN's Mike Reiss followed up, reporting that it was a one-year deal with a base salary of $1.165 million, with $200K guaranteed.
Ferentz has spent the last five seasons in New England, serving as a valuable interior backup while playing nearly 800 snaps while filling in at various times. In 2022, he had three starts at center in replacement of an injured David Andrews. But during his time with the Pats, Ferentz has played all three interior spots and offers solid backup insurance. This now leaves the Patriots interior line with Cole Strange, David Andrews and Michael Onwenu atop the depth chart as the starters, then Ferentz, second-year players Chasen Hines (guard) and Kody Russey (center) and converted defensive lineman Bill Murray backing them up. Hines' development is something to watch for but this could still be an area of late-round interest in the draft, especially as Onwenu approaches the final year of his rookie deal.
"He's been in our system a long time," said Bill Belichick of Ferentz this past season. "He definitely knows what to do. Smart kid. Played all three positions in there center and guard. So, if James has to play, I'm sure he'll play well for us."
The reported move comes on the heels of the reported re-signing of tackle Conor McDermott, who was signed off the Jets practice squad late last season and ended up starting the final six games of the season. These are the kind of mindful depth moves that help provide a degree of continuity and insurance, and while neither might get the fanbase fired up, they're the kind of moves that good teams have to make. With the start of the new league year and the opening of the free agency market next week, these moves are just the precursor as the team sets their baseline and then looks to build up their roster.