By: Kyle (@GimRari)
One of the strongest parts of the Patriots roster last season was the offensive line. Led by a starting lineup of Isaiah Wynn, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Michael Onwenu, the Patriots had one of the best offensive lines in football. Backups such as Justin Herron and Jermaine Eluemunor played key roles last year as well, both playing snaps at multiple positions throughout the season.
Looking ahead at how the Patriots offensive line could look in 2021, there are key free agents and the depth may be tested. Joe Thuney, David Andrews, and Jermaine Eluemunor are all scheduled to hit free agency, and the Patriots interior depth is thin at the moment. The team will need to restock the offensive line again for this season, just like they did last offseason by drafting Michael Onwenu and Justin Herron.
There will be plenty of options on the offensive line in the NFL Draft, but with the team’s abundance of cap space, they could easily sign veteran players to help keep the offensive line a strength in 2021. Here are some options that they could look at.
Patriots OL Free Agents
Joe Thuney (28 years old – 6’5 308)
Joe Thuney is the Patriot free agent that is probably the unlikeliest to re-sign with the team, but it is still possible that Bill Belichick pays him. Being strong up front is an undervalued aspect of tram football, and Thuney is one of the best guards in football. He has the versatility to play other spots on the offensive line in case of emergency, and has never missed a game playing in a total of 90 straight. Belichick could offer Thuney a long-term contract to keep the offensive line from last season together for the foreseeable future. I don’t believe that they’ll work out a long term deal with Thuney, but his return would make sense for a roster in need of great players
David Andrews (29 years old – 6’3 300)
After missing the 2019 season due to blood clots, many were worried about David Andrews returning to football. Andrews responded by having a mostly strong season in 2020, helping the Patriots have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. He should be a high priority for the Patriots to bring back, as he’s been a Patriot his whole career and an interior line of Onwenu-Andrews-Mason could be one of the best in the league. Plus, having a center as experienced as Andrews is massive for whoever is behind center moving forward.
Jermaine Eluemunor (26 years old – 6’4 335)
Jermaine Eluemunor isn’t the flashiest name in the world but he is a solid and dependable player that spent all last season with the Patriots. Eluemunor has experience playing guard and he took a good amount of snaps last season at offensive tackle. He’s a versatile player and a perfect depth piece for a Patriots offensive line that is currently lacking interior depth. Bringing back a player that can play multiple interior positions and compete for a starting role at offensive tackle is a realistic and sound decision.
Free Agent OL Fits
Zach Banner (27 years old – 6’8 344)
Zach Banner isn’t a household name just yet, but he’s an interesting player with upside. He is massive at 6’8 and 335 pounds, towering over opposing edge rushers. He doesn’t have much experience in the NFL to this point, with only two starts in his three-year career. Despite that, with his physical tools he has the type of potential worth getting in the building. He won the starting right tackle job in camp for the Steelers last season before a torn ACL in Week 1 derailed his season. New England could potentially get a steal if they’re able to sign Banner and allow him to maul defenders next to Shaq Mason.
Cam Fleming (29 years old – 6’5 320)
A former Patriots draft pick could make his way back to the team. Cam Fleming just finished up a season playing under former Patriots Special Teams Coordinator Joe Judge in New York and is slated to hit free agency. Fleming isn’t a world beater, but he’s a solid swing tackle that has experience in the offensive system. He could compete with Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, Justin Herron, and potentially Michael Onwenu for the starting right tackle job or fill his previous role as the 6th offensive lineman in certain packages.
Forrest Lamp (27 years old – 6’4 310)
Forrest Lamp was a 2nd-round pick back in 2017 but he hasn’t lived up to his draft position. Injuries have played a major role in that, as he tore his ACL as a rookie and broke his fibula in his third season. Injuries have really stunted his development as a player, but a new team could potentially tap into that top-40 talent. A “prove-it” deal in New England could help Lamp salvage his career, and New England could acquire a talented player for cheap money.
Denzelle Good (30 years old – 6’5 340)
Denzelle Good isn’t the most well known Raider offensive linemen, but he is solid and steady. He’s a versatile player and he showed that off this past season in Las Vegas, playing both offensive guard and tackle. When Trent Brown was sidelined, Good started at right tackle in his place and mostly held up well. Good would be a perfect depth signing for the Patriots, he won’t break the bank and his versatility allows him to bolster multiple positions on the line. Adding a veteran like Good is an upgrade over the Patriots current depth options on the interior offensive line.
Dan Feeney (27 years old – 6’4 310)
Another Los Angeles Charger on the list, Feeney is someone who has experience playing both offensive guard and center. Similar to Denzelle Good, he would help fortify the interior offensive line depth. Feeney is still young at just 26 years-old, and has been durable to this point in his career. He’s played 16 games in three straight seasons, and could start for New England if David Andrews leaves in free agency. Even if Andrews returns, Feeney appears to be an upgrade over current backup James Ferentz.
Cam Erving (29 years old – 6’5 313)
Cam Erving is the most versatile player on this list, having played offensive tackle, guard, and center during his pro career. The former 19th overall pick could be a swiss army knife for the Patriots, and everyone knows how much Bill Belichick values versatility. Cam Erving having experience at all of those positions while likely coming at an inexpensive price makes him a unique and desirable option. Erving isn’t likely to receive anything more than a short-term deal, which could help sustain New England’s future cap space.
Ethan Pocic (26 years old – 6’6 320)
Another potential David Andrews replacement, Ethan Pocic has struggled with injuries in his brief NFL career but he’s shown the upside of a starting center in the NFL. Betting on Pocic to remain healthy would be a significant gamble by New England, but this would not be the first time the team has taken a chance on a talented player that has dealt with prior injuries. Pocic has shown that he can play guard as well, meaning he could provide competition for the starting left guard position if Thuney isn’t retained.
Cam Robinson (25 years old – 6’6 320)
The former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive tackle is scheduled to hit free agency for the first time in his NFL career. Robinson hasn’t exactly lived up to his second round selection back, but he has physical tools that teams covet in their left tackles. Listed at 6’6 and 320 pounds with 35 and a half inch arms, Robinson is the prototype at the position. It’s possible that a fresh start could benefit Robinson, but we’ll see if the Jaguars choose to let him walk in free agency with the projected draft pick of quarterback Trevor Lawrence at # overall. On top of that, it’s unclear how the addition of Robinson would fit on the puzzle of the offensive line.
Potential Cap Casualties
Trent Brown (28 years old – 6’8 360 pounds)
With the Las Vegas Raiders being over the cap, right tackle Trent Brown could be released for $0 in dead cap. Patriot fans are familiar with Brown, he helped bring home the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl. Brown is still playing at the level he did for New England, but his problem has been staying on the field. Since joining the Raiders, Brown has only appeared in 16 out of 32 possible games. If the Raiders decide to move on from the talented offensive tackle, the Patriots should be working hard to bring him back to Foxboro. The team currently has a question mark at right tackle and Brown could be the immediate answer.
Trai Turner (28 years old – 6’3 320)
Trai Turner spent the first six years of his NFL career in Carolina before being traded to the Los Angeles Chargers this past offseason. During his time in Carolina, he showed that he was a solid guard who played with an unmatched level of physicality and nastiness. His play dipped in Los Angeles this past season, but that was the case with nearly everyone on the Chargers offensive line. He’s slated to make $11.5 million dollars this upcoming season but with nothing guaranteed, making him a potential cap casualty. Turner could fit on the roster if Bill Belichick believes that Michael Onwenu could be the long-term answer at right tackle and Joe Thuney walks in free agency.