A source has told the Boston Herald that the New England Patriots are taking a look at veteran tackle Chad Clifton, who was a fan favorite of the Green Bay Packers for many seasons. He said back in may that he doesn’t plan on retiring, and Clifton is likely going to the same tryout that is being held for wide receiver Plaxico Burress.
Chad Clifton was one of the best left tackles in the NFL for the Packers in his prime, but he is a shell of what he used to be due to injuries. Last season, he struggled mightily in pass protection and age and injuries are catching up to him. He has missed considerable chunks of time due to injuries, and he is 36 years old. He isn’t a terrible player by any means, but he isn’t a starting-caliber tackle anymore. But of course, the Pats won’t be asking him to do that.
Despite a steep decline in play, there is still value in having Clifton playing on the bench. For one, he provides quality veteran depth and could conceivably bounce back once healthy. He’s also a great mentor for younger offensive linemen, which is likely the primary reason why the Patriots are showing interest in him. Nate Solder is talented, but he is still an extremely raw left tackle; especially as a pass blocker. Having Clifton around would greatly aid him, and Marcus Cannon would also benefit from learning from one of the great veterans. They both had Matt Light last season, but they could still use some help transitioning into their roles. Cannon struggled mightily in the team’s first preseason game and will be a liability if pressed into a starting role, should Sebastian Vollmer suffer an injury.