The New England Patriots offensive line suffered yet another blow when Isaiah Wynn went on the short-term injured reserve with turf toe. The Patriots already lost David Andrews to blood clots, and right tackle Marcus Cannon is battling through a shoulder injury of his own. Cannon should be back on the field before long, but the Patriots could use an upgrade along the offensive line. Based on all available options, let’s take a look at what the Patriots could do without Isaiah Wynn.
What New England Patriots Could Do Without Isaiah Wynn at Left Tackle
Trying to find a good tackle on the trade market won’t be easy. Half of the teams in the league aren’t comfortable with their starting tackles, as there simply aren’t enough good players to go around. That said, there are a few interesting names out there.
The most obvious candidate is Washington Redskins left tackle Donald Penn. Penn is nothing special, but the Patriots could acquire him for a reasonable price. The 36-year old had an injury-plagued 2018 but has returned to league-average in 2019. Washington’s usual starter, Trent Williams, will reportedly be back with the team sooner rather than later, which means the Redskins could deal him without dramatically affecting their roster. The Redskins are in a rebuild mode and could use every draft pick they could get. Donald Penn isn’t a part of their future, so sending a fifth-round pick for Penn’s services makes sense for both sides.
Getting Trent Williams would be nice, but that’s a pipe dream at this point. For one, New England would probably have to trade away their first-round pick. Secondly, Williams carries a $13.3 million cap hit in 2019. New England wouldn’t be on the books for his entire salary, but he’d easily eat up the remainder of New England’s $3.9 million in cap space.
Other trade candidates include Jordan Mailata of the Philadelphia Eagles and Cameron Fleming of the Dallas Cowboys. Mailata can play but is buried on Philadelphia’s stacked depth chart. Fleming, meanwhile, is Dallas’ top swing tackle and obviously has experience in the system. It’s hard to imagine either trade happening though, as these two teams are on the shortlist of Super Bowl contenders. Trading either player for a future draft pick wouldn’t make sense for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
Stick the Course Until Isaiah Wynn Returns
Isaiah Wynn should be back later in the year, so the Patriots may not feel the need to trade for more offensive line support. New England’s early-season schedule is ridiculously easy, and Tom Brady’s quick release and elite pocket presence can make offensive linemen look better than they actually are.
Even if it’s not via trade, they should still add another tackle to the roster. As previously mentioned, Marcus Cannon is dealing with his own injury, so New England’s tackle depth is very much compromised. There aren’t many attractive free-agent options available, but the Patriots could pursue somebody like Jermey Parnell or Matt Kalil for emergency depth. Korey Cunningham looks serviceable in Week 2, while Marshall Newhouse has nowhere to go but up. If Cannon stays healthy, this ragtag group of tackles might be enough to keep Brady upright through the easy portion of the schedule.
Additionally, New England could have help on the horizon in third-round rookie Yodny Cajuste. Cajuste suffered a quad injury in college and subsequently missed the entire offseason program. Cajuste is currently on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list, which means he’s eligible to return in Week 6. As of this posting, nobody has reported if or when the team plans to bring Cajuste onto the field.
Based on his college tape, Cajuste should have a home in the NFL. The West Virginia product played well above his third-round draft pedigree but fell in the draft due to injury concerns. Asking for a rookie to contribute right out of the gate is asking a lot, so New England shouldn’t put too much short-term faith in Cajuste.
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