Marcus Cannon’s Improved Play Earns Bill Belichick’s Praise, Contract Extension

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FOXBORO, Mass. — Marcus Cannon already is one of the longest-tenured players on the New England Patriots, and now he’s locked with the team’s longest contract.

The Patriots on Tuesday signed Cannon, a fifth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, to a five-year extension through 2021.

Cannon has made significant improvements this season through a number of factors. He entered season as the Patriots’ starting right tackle, giving him a steady role, he dropped 15 pounds during the offseason, and he’s benefited from veteran offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia coming out of retirement.

“Marcus is having a good season.” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday when asked about Cannon’s new contract. “He’s been a good player for us. He’s had to fill in for Sebastian and Nate in previous years. We’ve felt like we’ve had three good tackles, and usually two of the three of them wound up playing, however it went, varied from year to year over the last few years.

“Marcus has always done a solid job for us whenever he’s played. So, I’m glad we have him moving forward. Works hard, quiet kid, but he’s very dependable, team oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game, passing game, good player.”

Belichick said Cannon dropping weight — going from 350 pounds to 335 — “definitely helped.” When asked why Cannon didn’t shed the weight earlier in his career, Belichick said, “I wouldn’t say there was a reason, no.”

Belichick has long been a fan of Cannon, signing him to a two-year contract extension in 2014 when many believed the TCU product still was a struggling offensive lineman without a position. Cannon moved from offensive tackle to guard early in his career and also appeared to struggle in the AFC Championship Game last season against the Denver Broncos, but Belichick maintains the right tackle has been a quality player since being drafted.

“He’s been a good player for us,” Belichick said. “I mean, everybody improves with experience and more time, so forth. There really hasn’t been a point where he’s played tackle and hasn’t played pretty well.”

Cannon now is the fourth-highest paid right tackle in the NFL. He’s graded as the 17th-best overall tackle and ninth-best right tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Cannon has given up just three sacks on the season.

Thumbnail photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images

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