Jacoby Brissett is back in New England, signing a one-year contract, and giving the Patriots a bridge to their next quarterback. Elise Amendola/Associated PRess

The first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period came and went Monday and the Patriots got off to a slow start. Some might even call it boring, or uninspiring given the lack of notable moves.

But they got busy after the sun went down, re-signing offensive lineman Michael Onwenu at 7:30 p.m. before coming to terms with free-agent quarterback Jacoby Brissett at 8:30.

In the process of those moves, the last one in particular, def acto general manager Eliot Wolf and new coach Jerod Mayo pretty much telegraphed what’s coming in next month’s NFL Draft.

They paved the way to draft a quarterback.

Brissett returns to Foxborough on a one-year deal. The preliminary plan for the Patriots was to land a veteran who would serve as a mentor, and essentially be a bridge starter until the rookie was ready to go.

Now, if they manage to sign free-agent receiver Calvin Ridley, Wolf and Mayo will have hit the trifecta – cornerstone lineman, veteran quarterback, stud weapon – in terms of landing three of the most important pieces for a young quarterback.


For good measure, they also added a security blanket in pass-catching running back Antonio Gibson.

The Patriots, of course, have the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft. Early indications suggest they like all three of the top quarterbacks, meaning they’d take either Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye with that third overall pick with USC’s Caleb Williams long penciled in at No. 1.

Of course, someone might blow them away at the last minute with a trade offer for the No. 3 pick, prompting them to move down the board. But they’d still likely draft a quarterback at some point.

With Baker Mayfield (Tampa Bay), Kirk Cousins (Atlanta) and Russell Wilson (Pittsburgh) all available yet signing elsewhere, that was another tell tale sign New England will draft a QB. Had the Patriots landed one of those three, drafting a quarterback – at least one in the first round – wouldn’t have necessarily been a foregone conclusion.

Now it is. That much is obvious with Brissett’s hire. He fits the bill as the perfect placeholder.

So the signs are pointing at the third overall pick as the next face of the franchise. Whether it’s Daniels or Maye, some quarterback experts believe the Patriots will hit the jackpot with either one.


“They might not see Caleb (Williams) walking through the door, but whoever walks through the door, they can’t go wrong,” noted quarterback coach George Whitfield said when asked about the Patriots chances of landing a can’t-miss prospect in the top three. “You could hook a wagon to all three of them and be right back into contention.”

Since Sunday, the Patriots have been methodical in their approach. They’ve tried to put together a competent offensive group to surround Brissett, and by extension, the rookie quarterback.

Patriots Free Agency Football

The Patriots re-signed Kendrick Bourne as they continue to build their offense for their next face of the franchise, i.e., the quarterback they select with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

They re-signed both tight end Hunter Henry and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne. Then they added a bonafide pass-catching back in Gibson who also happens to be a 1,000-yard rusher. They also locked up Onwenu (three years, $57 million), their most important in-house free agent, and added another tackle with Pittsburgh’s Chukwuma Okorafor.

Their work, however, is far from done. At this stage, they’re simply off to a decent start.

They still need more tackle help. Landing Cowboys veteran Tyrone Smith or Bengals swing tackle Jonah Williams are possibilities to satisfy that need, along with taking someone in the draft, which has a very strong tackle class.

They also need another tight end. But mostly, they need top-end receivers.


The Patriots can’t toss out the same group from last year, minus DeVante Parker, who was told he was being released. That won’t get the job done.

Ridley fits the bill. He’s an explosive receiver. They can also add in the draft, which also boasts a very good receiver group. Or, they can make a deal for Tee Higgins, who reportedly requested a trade out of Cincinnati.

Outside of receiver, the Patriots did manage to check off a few of the boxes they targeted as part of their strategy to get their 4-13 team up off the mat.

Between making sure to bring back in-house players Onwenu, Henry and Kyle Dugger, who was hit with a transition tag; trading Mac Jones; and adding a veteran backup in Brissett who knows the offense, and can start if needed, top decision-makers Wolf and Mayo crossed off several things on their to-do list.

While they still haven’t truly “weaponized” their offense, there’s still time to make that happen, along with shoring up other areas of need.

At the very least, the Patriots went from an uninspiring start, to piquing some curiosity, not to mention lighting a flicker of hope by the end of the day.

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