The New England Patriots have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle. The news comes as a pleasant surprise after losing Nate Solder to the New York Giants. Together, Waddle and Solder make up two-thirds of the team’s free agent offensive tackles.
Source: The #Patriots keep an important free agent after all. They’ve agreed to terms with OT LaAdrian Waddle on a 1-year deal. Their potential LT.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 22, 2018
New England Patriots Re-Sign LaAdrian Waddle to One-Year Deal
On the list of off-season concerns for the Patriots, the gaps at the offensive tackle position were perhaps the most important to fill. The loss of Solder and the possibility of losing Waddle and Cameron Fleming left the Patriots dangerously close to empty at the position.
Waddle was the backup right tackle last year and technically the third-stringer. If the Patriots don’t re-sign Fleming, and with Marcus Cannon expected back next season, it’s likely that Waddle will shift to the left and cover Tom Brady‘s blind side. Both Waddle and Fleming recently visited the Dallas Cowboys, but clearly, Waddle felt his position in New England was more valuable.
With Cannon back, Waddle will return to a lineup of relative no-names such as Andrew Jelks and Cole Croston. Jelks has yet to play a professional game since being picked up by the Patriots last year. Even worse, Jelks hasn’t played a game of football since 2014 after back-to-back ACL tears. Antonio Garcia, one of their 2017 draft picks, sat out all of last season after suffering from blood clots in his lungs. However, he was recently cleared to return to football. Nonetheless, Garcia remains untested in the NFL. The team also signed Matt Tobin to a one-year deal, but we don’t anticipate Tobin making the final roster.
Even Dante Scarnecchia would have trouble with this lineup.
That leaves two good offensive tackles in the rotation if the Patriots cannot also re-sign Fleming. Having Waddle back is helpful, but the Patriots still need to push for Fleming. Picking up another offensive tackle in this year’s draft wouldn’t be a terrible idea either. Some mock drafts have the team picking up Kolton Miller out of UCLA. Miller’s numbers are eerily similar to Solder, making him a likely candidate to fill the left tackle position.