Trent Brown very well could be the best offensive tackle available on the open market once he hits free agency next Wednesday. He’s not the only New England Patriots tackle who could be switching teams, though.
LaAdrian Waddle, who spent the 2018 season as New England’s swing tackle (the top backup between Brown and starting right tackle Marcus Cannon), also is set to become an unrestricted free agent, leaving the Patriots with questionable depth at the edges of their O-line.
Here’s a closer look at Waddle, who’s been with the Patriots since 2015:
2018 STATS (PER PRO FOOTBALL FOCUS): three sacks, three QB hits, 17 total pressures allowed in 197 pass block snaps
Waddle started three games during the first half of the season, but other than that, he played sparingly, as Brown and Cannon both remained relatively healthy throughout the year. The 27-year-old had more of a role in 2017, rotating with Cameron Fleming after Cannon was lost for the year in November. He played well that year, allowing zero sacks in 225 pass block snaps.
POTENTIAL COMPETITION: Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets
Tackle depth is extremely important in the NFL. Teams will be interested in an experienced backup like Waddle if he leaves New England.
PROJECTED CONTRACT: one year, $1.5 million
That’s the value of the one-year deal Waddle signed last offseason to remain with the Patriots. Expect a similar value this time around.
PRIORITY TO RE-SIGN: Moderate
Bringing back Waddle specifically isn’t a requirement, but with untested second-year pro Isaiah Wynn expected to step into the starting lineup if Brown leaves in free agency, the Patriots need a proven veteran swing tackle who can provide some insurance at one of the game’s most important positions. Wynn missed his entire rookie season with a torn Achilles.
Cannon, who turns 31 in May, is the only Patriots tackle with legitimate NFL experience currently under contract for the 2019 season. Re-signing Waddle would be an affordable way to ensure the Pats aren’t short-staffed at the tackle position.
Also, even though they just selected Wynn in the first round last year, don’t be surprised if the Patriots use another draft pick on a tackle prospect next month.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images