The New England Patriots haven't had the explosive offseason that they were expected to be putting together, but they have had a clear cut plan early on in free agency. Defensively, the Pats have worked on re-signing their own crop of free agents, while offensively, they have been attempting to add depth to their offensive line while restructuring their group of playmakers alongside Mac Jones.

Despite that plan, it's unclear whether or not the Patriots have actually improved themselves this offseason. They have brought in some talented players, yes, but they have also watched some of their best players from last season leave as well. New England's plan isn't complete yet, but there has been a bit of concern popping up as a result of what we have seen in the early-going here.

The Pats external free agency signings haven't necessarily blown folks away, but they could end up being sneaky good additions if things break their way in 2023. Let's take a look at one sneaky good signing from New England in the early going here, and see why it could end up benefiting the Patriots next season and potentially beyond as well.

Patriots sneaky good free agent signing: Mike Gesicki

The Patriots entered the offseason with one very clear need; more playmakers on offense. Mac Jones didn't have a lot go his way in 2022, but he certainly did not receive enough support from his pass-catching corps. The need became an even bigger priority when Jakobi Meyers, Jones' top target in his first two seasons in the league, signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency.

New England more or less replaced Meyers by going out and signing JuJu Smith-Schuster, but that alone wasn't going to fill their need here. The problem is that the free agent class of wide receivers was, and still is, less than stellar. That meant that Bill Belichick once again decided to throw a curveball by going out and signing tight end Mike Gesicki to a one-year, $4.5 million contract.

Gesicki is very familiar with the Patriots, as he played them twice a season during his first five years with the Miami Dolphins. Gesicki is coming off a down year with the Dolphins (32 REC, 362 YDS, 5 TD) which resulted in him taking a prove-it deal with the Patriots. It may not seem like it, but this deal could end up being one of the best signings of the offseason in the entire NFL.

Before signing Gesicki, the Patriots traded away Jonnu Smith, who was a massive bust in his two seasons with New England. They still have Hunter Henry in tow, who has been a far better fit with the Pats, so adding Gesicki to work in tandem with him, and for depth purposes, made a lot of sense.

There are a lot of reasons to like this Gesicki signing. Let's start with his build. Gesicki is a big guy (6'6, 247 pounds) who can line up all over the field. Henry spends most of his time on the line as a conventional tight end, while Gesicki can be split out to the slot, or even as an outside receiver, and win his matchups. Chances are he will be used more as a wide receiver than a tight end given the state of New England's offense.

It's also worth noting that the Patriots new offensive coordinator, Bill O'Brien, loves using formations with two tight ends on the field. During O'Brien's first stint with New England as their offensive coordinator, New England's offense dominated the league with dual-tight end sets. At their peak, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were maybe the most dominant tight end duo the NFL has ever seen.

The addition of Gesicki was a bit confusing at first, but you can probably see where this is going now. With O'Brien on board, he wants to try to recreate that success he had in the early 2010s using multiple tight ends to create mismatches. Nobody is going to say Henry and Gesicki are the equivalent of Gronkowski and Hernandez, but Henry can operate in a similar role as Gronk, while Gesicki can be moved all over the place like Hernandez.

The question of whether this plan will actually work still stands, but the goal for the Patriots here is very clear. Not only did they get Jones another pass-catcher, but they may have addressed their scheme in a way that will allow their offense to take off in 2023. It's certainly a sneaky move by New England that didn't catch a ton of attention, and it will be interesting to see whether Gesicki has the desired impact in his first season with his new team.