Should Patriots claim Mac Jones' former LT, Alex Leatherwood, off waivers? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Could the Patriots pursue Alex Leatherwood?
Leatherwood was a first-round pick (17th overall) of the Raiders in last year's draft. He only played one season for Las Vegas before the team waived him Tuesday. The NFL deadline for teams to trim their rosters from 80 players to 53 is 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Any team that claims Leatherwood would owe him $5.9 million in guaranteed money over the next three years. That's a decent chunk of change for a player most experts believed was a second-round talent in the 2021 draft.
Former #Raiders first-round pick Alex Leatherwood will be subject to waivers. Any team that claims him would need to take on nearly $6 million in fully guaranteed salary over the next three years -- a big reason Las Vegas couldn't find a trade partner.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) August 30, 2022
Leatherwood played left tackle and right guard over four seasons at Alabama and helped the Crimson Tide win multiple national championships. One of those titles came in 2021, which was Jones' only season as Alabama's starting quarterback.
"I mean, Mac is a testament of just hard work, you know what I mean?" Leatherwood told NFL Network before the 2021 draft. "And being a smart player. Coming in, he sat behind two great quarterbacks, you know what I mean? Whether it's time to start or not, a lot of people don't understand how much work Mac put in behind the scenes during fall camp, summer, all that stuff, getting extra mean, all that good stuff. So I'm not surprised by his success and I'm not going to be surprised if he's picked at No. 3."
The Patriots have selected four Alabama players in the last four drafts, including Jones at No. 15 overall in 2021. New England head coach Bill Belichick and Alabama head coach Nick Saban also have a close relationship. The Patriots know Alabama players are well-coached and often ready to contribute early in their pro careers.
Leatherwood wasn't a fit in Las Vegas, but for a team like the Patriots that really needs offensive tackle depth, it might be worth taking a gamble on the 2021 first-rounder. Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn are projected to start at left and right tackle, respectively, in Week 1. Both players have durability concerns, and Wynn's name has recently been the subject of trade rumors.
Claiming Leatherwood and paying him almost $6 million for the next three years is a bit pricey, so if he clears waivers and can be signed for cheaper, that's definitely an option to consider.