The Patriots are in an offseason where adding significant resources at offensive tackle is a certainty.
New England made the first move to solidify their depth at the position by reportedly re-signing veteran offensive tackle Conor McDermott, who was set to become a free agent. The Patriots are bringing back McDermott after the six-year pro started the last six games of the 2022 season at right tackle for the Pats, according to the Boston Globe's Jim McBride.
After spending the first half of the season with the Jets, the Patriots signed McDermott off New York's practice squad, and he was serviceable on the right side. McDermott didn't allow a sack in pass protection in six starts, and although he wasn't as strong in the second halves of games, he helped stabilize a right tackle spot that had a bumpy year.
New England started the season by flipping former first-rounder Isaiah Wynn to right tackle, and Wynn struggled with the transition. Then, the Pats brought back Marcus Cannon for a short stint, which also was unsuccessful, and 2019 third-round pick Yodny Cajuste made three starts. Those three struggled with injuries and performance and are now pending free agents, with Cajuste a restricted free agent this offseason.
The right tackle position was a significant weakness in the Patriots offensive line throughout the season. McDermott came in when the team was searching for bodies and proved worthy of a roster spot.
"Thank God we have him," head coach Bill Belichick said of McDermott late last season. "He's done a good job. He's been dependable and tough. He's been out there, been durable."
Along with a successful six-game stint with the team last season, the Patriots new offensive line coach, according to reports, Adrian Klemm, was McDermott's O-Line coach at UCLA before the Pats selected the veteran tackle in the 2017 draft.
The connection to Klemm and McDermott's reliability a year ago might suggest he'll have a chance to play a prominent role in 2023. However, and it's no knock on McDermott, the better route is for McDermott to serve as a backup to solidify the depth behind larger acquisitions. McDermott joins incumbent left tackle Trent Brown and 2022 seventh-rounder Andrew Stueber as the only two tackles on the roster. From that sense, it's a good depth signing, and McDermott has proved he can start in a pinch.
Still, re-signing McDermott shouldn't alter New England's bigger offseason plans at the position. The Patriots should allocate more significant resources, such as the 14th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and possibly a top-tier free agent, on offensive tackle to find at least one starter with more upside.
Nevertheless, there's nothing wrong with building out depth along the offensive line, and McDermott is a quality backup and emergency starter.