With Dan Koppen's surprising return, the Patriots might have the deepest offensive line in the NFL.
Koppen reportedly signed a two-year, $6 million deal Friday to stay in New England, which means the Patriots will be paying someone starting-caliber money to sit on the bench. Last month, Dan Connolly signed a three-year deal that could be worth as much as $9.7 million, according to reports, and that seemed to signify the end of Koppen's nine-year run with the Patriots.
But with Koppen back in the mix, the Patriots have plenty of options with interior linemen. They've also got Logan Mankins, Brian Waters, Robert Gallery and Donald Thomas at guard, and Connolly and Ryan Wendell can play both guard and center. Nick McDonald, who played well in two starts at center last season, is another option.
Assuming Matt Light retires, Nate Solder figures to start at left tackle, and Sebastian Vollmer will be the man at right tackle, with Marcus Cannon serving as the backup. Gallery could also swing outside to provide good, veteran depth.
At this point, the Patriots' ideal starting offensive line would be, from left to right, Solder, Mankins, Koppen, Waters and Vollmer. Yet, with the uncertainty of Mankins' recovery from ACL surgery, Waters could potentially return to his natural position at left guard and leave Connolly and Gallery to compete for the other starting position — or vice versa if the Patriots prefer to stay consistent and keep Waters on the right side.
With all that in mind, here's the projected depth chart with the assumption Light will retire:
Left tackle: Solder, Gallery
Left guard: Mankins, Gallery, Connolly, Wendell, Thomas
Center: Koppen, Connolly, Wendell, McDonald
Right guard: Waters, Connolly, Wendell, Thomas
Right tackle: Vollmer, Gallery, Cannon