Grading the Patriots' first batch of (re-)signings in 2024 free agency

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots
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Although the Patriots have had a relatively unexciting start to free agency thus far, they have managed to re-sign more than a handful of their most valuable players who were set to hit the market this offseason.

The expectation was that they would recreate the spending spree that Bill Belichick enjoyed in 2021, especially since they had far more cash to spend this year. But they have taken a much different approach so far, and fans aren't thrilled.

Because the new league year just began on Wednesday afternoon, there's still plenty of time for things to pick up and for New England to turn things around. Some quality players are still looking for new teams, so not all hope should be lost just yet.

But in the meantime, let's review the 11 re-signings they have accomplished and grade them based on the fit and value for the team.

Patriots place transition tag on Kyle Dugger: (1 year, $13.82 million)

Atop the list of most important players to re-sign this year was safety Kyle Dugger. It was the first time in his career that he would be testing the free agent market and was expected to be heavily pursued by several teams looking to improve their secondary.

Since being drafted in 2020, he's put together an impressive resume, and although last year wasn't his best, he remains one of the better players at the position in the league.

Because of that, there was hope that presumed general manager Eliot Wolf would prioritize bringing him back for the 2024 season and beyond, and that is what he did, just with a twist. Instead of offering Dugger a contract extension, the Patriots placed the not-often-used transition tag on him instead.

That meant he would be under contract next season with a salary of $13.82 million. However, he could still speak to other teams who could match the offer and steal him from New England. Unfortunately for Dugger, safeties were being cut left and right before the official start of free agency, which devalued him and essentially made him less desirable.

However, the Patriots got him for a steal when comparing contracts to others at the position, which makes their decision to use the transition tag smarter than originally anticipated.

Hopefully, the plan is to work on a contract extension to keep him around long-term. It's great that he will be with the team for another year, especially as he has become a leader of the defense, and keeping that consistency will be beneficial. But prioritizing locking him up for more years should be a focus of Wolf's this offseason.

Our grade: B