Patriots Offseason Outlook: Will New England Need New Left Tackle In 2019?

Before the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off later this month, marking the unofficial start of the NFL offseason, we’re taking a position-by-position look at the New England Patriots’ roster. We’ll examine which players stood out in 2018, which ones have some work to do this offseason and which ones could be leaving town.

Next up: the offensive line.

UNDER CONTRACT
C David Andrews
RT Marcus Cannon
RG Shaq Mason
LG Joe Thuney
G/C Ted Karras
C James Ferentz
OL Isaiah Wynn
OL Brian Schwenke
OL Cole Croston
OT Dan Skipper
OL Jake Eldrenkamp
OT Ryker Matthews

IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
LT Trent Brown
OT LaAdrian Waddle
OT Ulrick John

STANDOUT PERFORMER
The Patriots hit the jackpot with Brown, who, after playing primarily on the right side during his three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, seamlessly replaced departed left tackle Nate Solder. The 6-foot-8, 380-pound Brown started all 16 games in his first year in New England, anchoring an offensive line dominated down the stretch and throughout the postseason.

Mason, who again deserved but did not receive a Pro Bowl selection, continued to be an athletic run-blocking force, and Thuney became the first Patriots player since 2015 to play every single offensive snap over the course of a season. Mason, Thuney and Andrews have manned New England’s three interior O-line spots since the start of the 2016 season, and all are expected back in 2019.

NEEDS IMPROVEMENT
Wynn was the Patriots’ top draft pick last year (23rd overall), but he played just nine preseason snaps before suffering a season-ending Achilles tear. The injury didn’t wind up costing New England — Brown and Cannon both stayed relatively healthy, allowing the team to survive with little depth at the position — but Wynn will be asked to play a significant role as an NFL sophomore. With Brown likely to command a hefty payday in free agency, the Patriots likely hope the Georgia product will be ready to take over as their new left tackle.

TOP OFFSEASON STORYLINES
1. Is Brown a goner? It certainly seems that way. The refrigerator-sized 25-year-old will be the best player available at a position that typically commands lucrative contracts. Just last year, Solder landed a four-year, $62 million deal from the New York Giants, and he was both four years older than Brown is now and coming off a worse season. A mega-deal in that range likely would be too rich for the Patriots’ blood, regardless of how effective Brown was at protecting Tom Brady’s blind side and bulldozing defenders in the running game.

2. Is Wynn ready to take the reins? That ‘s the big question if Brown indeed walks. It’ll also be interesting to see how the Patriots handle the tackle position as a whole. Retaining Waddle, their swing tackle this season and a solid fill-in over the last two years, might be wise to provide some veteran stability behind the inexperienced Wynn.

Patriots offseason preview: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Tight ends | Wide receivers | Defensive line/ends (Feb. 18) | Linebackers (Feb. 19) | Cornerbacks (Feb. 20) | Safeties (Feb. 21) | Specialists (Feb. 22) 

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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