Patriots Left With One Big Question On O-Line After Marcus Cannon Trade

Will the Patriots complete their O-line by signing David Andrews?


Mar 14, 2021

Days after the Patriots made a trade to bring back offensive tackle Trent Brown, New England is letting go of an old friend.

The Patriots are trading longtime right tackle and three-time Super Bowl champion Marcus Cannon to the Houston Texans, sources confirmed to The Patriots and Texans are swapping fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks, a league source told The Boston Globe’s Jim McBride on Sunday. Getting any value in return for Cannon, who will be 33 years old in May and opted out for the 2020 season, is a win for the Patriots. The move frees up $6,276,250 in salary cap space and helps offset the cap hit Brown will be bringing to New England. The Patriots will enter free agency on Wednesday with well over $50 million in cap space.

Cannon was selected by New England in the fifth-round of the 2011 NFL Draft and played in 115 games, starting 69 of them, in 10 seasons before opting out last summer. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma before the 2011 NFL Draft but still wound up playing seven regular-season games as a rookie. He also overcame some early-career struggles to be a mainstay on the Patriots’ offensive line and even earned second-team All-Pro honors in 2016.

New England is left with Brown, Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste, Korey Cunningham and Justin Herron at offensive tackle, Michael Onwenu, Shaq Mason, Najee Toran and Ross Reynolds at guard and Marcus Martin at center. Herron can also play guard, and Onwenu can play tackle.

Centers David Andrews and James Ferentz, left guard Joe Thuney and guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor are free agents. Andrews is more likely to return to the Patriots in 2021 than Thuney, since the center is expected to command a lower salary on the open market. Thuney also can play center if New England elects to bring him back instead.

The Patriots have flexibility because of their O-line’s versatility. Brown has played left and right tackle. Wynn has played left and right tackle and left guard. Onwenu played left guard, right guard and right tackle as a rookie in 2020. Herron played both left and right tackle and practiced at guard as a rookie.

If New England doesn’t re-sign Andrews or Thuney to play center, then it will need to add someone at the position whether that’s through free agency or the draft. Martin, a third-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2014 who can also fill in at guard, hasn’t played a regular-season offensive snap since 2016. He was signed by the Patriots to a two-year contract late in the 2020 season.

If Andrews or Thuney re-signs, then the Patriots’ offensive line is complete no matter where New England slots in Brown, Wynn and Onwenu.

The Patriots’ offensive line figures to be a strength again in 2021 assuming the unit stays healthy.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
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