Patriots tackle depth appears to take a hit ahead of final roster cut-downs

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Perry: Pats' tackle depth appears to take a hit ahead of final cut-downs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO -- Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh said Monday morning that he liked what the team had at offensive tackle.

Between Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn, Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste -- the team's top-four options at the position this summer -- Groh said he felt "very fortunate and very confident" in the players on the roster.

"There's not too many teams in the league that aren't looking for tackles," Groh said. "We feel fortunate in the guys that we have."

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Unfortunately for the Patriots, Cajuste was medically evaluated for an undisclosed physical issue after the preseason game in Las Vegas on Friday. One of the team's top backups at one of the most valuable positions in the sport, Cajuste was not present for the start of Monday's practice on the fields behind Gillette Stadium.

The issues for the Patriots at tackle are layered.

Health has been a consistent problem there through the summer. Wynn has missed practices and didn't play in New England's second preseason game against the Panthers. Herron has also dealt with injury during camp, forcing him to miss time. Cajuste -- someone who has dealt with injury since being drafted by the Patriots in 2019 (seven games in three seasons) -- is dealing with something now. And though Trent Brown has been largely healthy in camp, he's missed 19 regular season games the last two seasons.

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Trading Wynn is something the Patriots have reportedly discussed, per Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, in part because of his cap hit that exceeds $10 million. And Groh acknowledged Monday that the Patriots are working toward getting their roster to 53 players with the cap in mind.

“We’ll keep working through that," Groh explained. "All those numbers are being crunched and they’re certainly a factor and consideration."

But if the overall health of the group is concerning, parting with Wynn may not fit into the category of what's best for the team.

When asked about New England's depth at the position, Bill Belichick wasn't quite as positive as Groh, but he seemed to think of Wynn as a starter headed into 2022.

"Not bad," Belichick said. "Two players who are pretty established starters and two young players who continue to get better."

There are teams that would appreciate having that setup at that particular position. The Patriots have a guard in Mike Onwenu who has proven he can handle himself at tackle if necessary, too.

But if Cajuste is dealing with something that will keep him out for some time, the Patriots may be keeping their eyes open for players who can function at that position if any slip through the cracks as rosters are cut down. They may need one.