The Friday Bag is back, friends. Every week I'll be answering your questions be they Patriots-related, NFL-related or otherwise. This week, the focus for many of you was -- no surprise -- the offensive line. We'll start there.
— Harry Mann Jr. (@harryjunior1985) September 19, 2019
Thanks for touching base, Harry. I wrote about this a little bit about a month ago when it looked like Trent Williams might be moved by Washington. I think what prevented the Patriots from making a move for Williams then would still hold now. Even with Isaiah Wynn landing on injured reserve earlier this week.
The cost for Williams seems, at this point, to be prohibitive. He'll want a new contract. He has two years remaining on his deal and is scheduled to make $10.8 and $12.5 in base salary in 2019 and 2020. He has cap hits for both seasons that exceed $14 million. He could command a deal that exceeds $16.5 million annually. That's what Trent Brown got from the Raiders, making him the highest-paid tackle in the league.
Then you have to consider the compensation you'd have to give up in terms of draft picks. That might be going down by the day as the season wears on here, but the Seahawks got Duane Brown and a fifth from the Texans in return for a second and a third; the Eagles nabbed Jason Peters from the Bills for a first, a fourth and a sixth years ago. Laremy Tunsil was the centerpiece in a deal that sent him to Houston along with Kenny Stills and a couple of late picks in return for two first-rounders and a second-rounder.
All-Pro -- or even a tick below that level -- tackles are rarely traded. When they are, they cost an arm and a leg and a first round pick. That's probably a little rich for Bill Belichick.
Does no cap space mean that the O-Line is what it is now? I feel that's why the power-run game hasn't been as potent, a la 2015 the carousel of O-line that got Brady crushed.
— Matthew Bilz (@mattbilz) September 19, 2019
I wouldn't worry about cap space, Matthew. The Patriots still have a variety of ways in which they can move things around. Extensions for Devin McCourty and Kyle Van Noy would be at the top of my list if I were the Patriots. The running game hasn't been as good, but once Shaq Mason gets his legs under him after a bumpy start, and once the team gets Marcus Cannon back -- which could be soon after he performed a pre-game workout Sunday in Miami -- then they should immediately look better.
The run game issues are issues. They simply aren't efficient in that aspect of their attack. But if the line gets a little more cohesive -- I'd expect to see Marshall Newhouse at left tackle with Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Mason and Cannon -- then they'll improve. It's important that they do because dropping Tom Brady back to pass 45 times every Sunday behind an offensive line with a new piece or two doesn't seem like a sound long-term plan.
Regarding the Pats OLine. What about Yodney Cajuste? I know he's on the NFI list but is he eligible to return...he was supposed to have a lot of promise. I know you can only return 2 guys from IR, does NFI list count against that?
— cq1995 (@cq1995) September 19, 2019
Hey, CQ. The non-football injury list functions like the physically unable to perform list. Players on NFI all through camp and into the regular season have to sit for six weeks before they can return to action. Doing some digging to see where Cajuste stands and if he'll be available. We've seen him walking around the locker room from time to time without issue, but that's not a great indicator of how ready he'll be to block defensive ends in about a month's time.
Who backs up James develin? Or do they just not use 2 back sets?
— Kyle Tavares (@Kyle_TvarS) September 19, 2019
No backup at the moment, Kyle. If anything, you might see more tight ends rolled out onto the field since the fullback and tight end responsibilities in the Patriots offense are similar. You've actually seen Develin play a little bit of in-line tight end this year since the depth there hasn't been great. It should be improving though.
Matt LaCosse, dealing with an ankle injury since Week 1 of preseason, is getting healthier and contributed as a receiver in Miami. Ryan Izzo would be more of the blocking tight end specialist. Would he work as a fullback like Develin? He could. I wouldn't expect to see it nearly as often as we do with Develin on the field. It's just not a deep spot that tight end/fullback group.
There was a time this summer when I thought the Patriots might keep Andrew Beck as a special-teamer and backup fullback because the fullback is so important to this offensive attack. (Beck was listed as a tight end but was more fullback than tight end in training camp.) They released him and he was picked up quickly by the Broncos. They have what they have at the moment. Matthew Slater was on the field in a tight end role at the goal line in Miami. That should tell you where their depth is.
Hey Phil, will you have a next Pats Podcast when draft time arrives next year? Really enjoyed these episodes before the 2019 draft. Best regards from Austria
— BradyForcesJetsFansToCry (@Pats_1988) September 19, 2019
Austria checking in! Appreciate you asking about the Next Pats Podcast. Had a great time doing that leading up to the draft. We haven't settled on what our draft coverage will look like in the spring, but we'll keep you posted. Kicking around ideas on how to get some mid-season draft content out there since I know people are hungry for it.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.