How Much Longer Can Patriots Stick With Isaiah Wynn At Right Tackle?

Wynn is one of the NFL's highest-paid right tackles


September 29

Isaiah Wynn’s switch to right tackle hasn’t been a complete disaster, but his underwhelming play might be forcing the Patriots to consider making another change on their offensive line.

The 2018 first-round pick spent the first four years of his career at left tackle, providing mostly average play while missing 32 games due to injuries/illness. New England, which last year picked up Wynn’s fifth-year option, switched the Georgia product to right tackle during the offseason while moving Trent Brown over to the left side. The decision, along with Wynn again skipping voluntary OTAs, sparked a slew of trade rumors that thus far haven’t come to fruition.

All along, Wynn insisted moving across the offensive line wasn’t a big deal. “It’s like playing left tackle, just on the right side,” he said in June.

But the results through three games suggest otherwise.

Wynn enters Week 4 as Pro Football Focus‘ 32nd-ranked offensive tackle, a grading that probably is a fair representation of his standing among all tackles in the NFL. But Wynn, who carries the sixth-highest salary cap hit for a right tackle, has surrendered six total quarterback pressures, tied with 12 others for seventh-most in the NFL. The only right tackle with a higher cap hit who’s surrendered more pressures than Wynn is New York Jets veteran George Fant, who tops the list with a whopping 13 pressures allowed, per PFF.

However, PFF isn’t the only service that grades offensive lines. Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard studies the Patriots O-line as closely as anyone and has Wynn on the hook for 9.5 pressures over the last two games. That alone would place Wynn fifth overall on PFF’s pressures-allowed list.

Bedard also offered this note in his breakdown column published Tuesday:

“From what I hear, the Patriots are readying Marcus Cannon quickly. … He better start playing better or else he’s going to get benched for Marcus Cannon. Believe that.”

New England added the 34-year-old Cannon to its practice squad shortly before playing the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, roughly a week after Patriots personnel exec Matt Groh said the team was “very confident” in its depth at tackle. Cannon spent the first nine years of his career with the Patriots but opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns over COVID-19 and started only four games in 2021 while with the Houston Texans. That New England reportedly is considering benching Wynn for Cannon is more of an indictment on the former than it is an endorsement of the latter.

QB pressures aren’t the only stats working against Wynn. The 26-year-old is tied with three others for the overall NFL lead with four accepted penalties, all of which came in the last two games.

And each penalty happened at a terrible time. Wynn was flagged for holding with the Patriots facing a third-and-16 at their own 28-yard-line while tied with the Steelers during the first half in Pittsburgh. During the third quarter, Wynn committed a false start while New England faced a second-and-7 in Steelers territory. Three players later, Nick Folk missed a 52-yard field-goal attempt. These days, gaining or losing 5 yards can mean everything to the Patriots.

In last Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Wynn was flagged for illegal formation on a second-and-7 — two plays after DeVante Parker gained 31 yards — with the Patriots nearing midfield. New England punted two plays later. On the Patriots’ next drive, Wynn was called for holding on a second-and-8 — two plays after Parker picked up 40 yards. Folk converted a 35-yard field goal three plays later.

The common theme: Wynn made the Patriots’ offense go backward as it was putting together promising drives. That can’t happen given the current state of New England’s offense, which might have to make do with Brian Hoyer at quarterback for the foreseeable future.

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We’ll see how this situation shakes out. Wynn’s shown flashes of high-level play during his career and has the talent and athleticism to be very good at right tackle. He should be able to keep his job over a player like Cannon.

Can Wynn turn things around and use his looming free agency as motivation to step up his play? Absolutely. Far worse tackles have done so.

But things have been trending in the wrong direction since the start of the regular season. If Wynn struggles again this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, don’t be surprised if he lands on the bench — and stays there.

Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images
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