New England Patriots lose Cameron Fleming to Dallas Cowboys
New England Patriots offensive lineman Cameron Fleming will be joining the Dallas Cowboys.
The New England Patriots offensive line has become a major topic of discussion this offseason. New England suffered a surprise loss there, as left tackle Nate Solder signed with the New York Giants in free agency.
Solder became the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL courtesy of the Giants. It was a signing out of desperation for the Giants, who were desperate for an offensive line upgrade. Once they swung and missed on guard Andrew Norell, the Giants put the fullcourt press on Solder and landed him.
New England was never going to make Solder the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. That is not how they operate. However, they are left with a major hole along their offensive line. Finding competent left tackles is not an easy thing to do, but the Patriots are now tasked with doing so.
In addition to Solder, the Patriots also had LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming hitting the free agent market. Both players were in the lineup last season to replace the injured Marcus Cannon. However, they drew interest in free agency.
Both players met with the Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots were able to convince Waddle to return, re-signing him to a one-year deal. Unfortunately, they were not as successful with Fleming.
Fleming is expected to sign with the Cowboys. ESPN’s Field Yates shared the news on his Twitter account.
Losing Fleming hurts for New England. He actually graded out better than Solder did last season according to Pro Football Focus. Fleming was No. 24 among tackles, while Solder was No. 32. Fleming excels as a pass blocker, ranking 20th among tackles in pass blocking. He is 34th in run blocking out of 86 qualifying players.
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While New England lost Fleming, they do have some options to replace Solder. Waddle will get a crack at the left tackle spot, but he is not the only player that will have an opportunity.
The Patriots signed Matt Tobin, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Phillies, in free agency. He is being joined by holdovers Antonio Garcia and Cole Croston. Garcia did not play in 2017 as he suffered from blood blots in his lungs, but he has been cleared to play again. Croston was an undrafted rookie that showed enough promise that the Patriots kept him all season.
The Patriots will have their work cut out for them to replace Solder. They could look for a long-term option if they do not have confidence in the players they currently have.
Next: Grading Patriots Recent Free Agent Signings
One thing that the Patriots do have working for them is offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Scarnecchia is one of the best in the business at what he does. If anyone will be able to overcome the losses of Solder and Fleming, it is him.