Patriots: 4 free agents NE can sign to replace Dont’a Hightower and Marcus Cannon
By Jerry Trotta
Here are a few free agents the Patriots should target after losing Dont’a Hightower and Marcus Cannon.
It’s truly wild to think how drastically the Patriots depth was decimated within the last several hours. With the start of training camp looming, a total of six players — Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, Marcus Cannon, Brandon Bolden, Dan Vitale and Najee Toran — all opted out of the 2020 season due to fears over playing amid the global pandemic.
Given how prominent the coronavirus still is throughout the country, it’s really difficult to fault their decisions, and we fully expect more players to follow in their footsteps.
After all, the NFL‘s schedule is the same as it ever was, meaning that teams are set to travel across the country to potential COVID-19 epicenters for games.
For New England, these are losses the franchise simply couldn’t afford to experience following the roster turnover it underwent this offseason. Now, the front office must scramble to find reinforcements on the open market, where top talent will be hard to come by this deep into free agency.
With this in mind, let’s attempt to identify potential replacements for the Patriots. However, let’s keep the search focused on linebackers and offensive tackles, because Hightower and Cannon are arguably the two biggest blows.
4. LaAdrian Waddle
The Patriots could target LaAdrian Waddle with their newfound cap space.
If we know one thing about the Patriots, it’s that they champion familiarity, so don’t be surprised if they look to bring back offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who appeared in 28 games (seven starts) for them in 2017 and 2018 before signing with the Buffalo Bills last offseason.
Unfortunately for the 29-year-old, he spent the entirety of last year on injured reserve with a torn quad and has yet to sign with a new team. Assuming that he’s fully recovered from that injury, we don’t see a problem with New England brining him back. Not only does he know the system, but he performed well in his limited opportunities as a rotational player.
Waddle might not grab headlines as a potential target, but we have no doubts that he’d be a solid emergency replacement for Cannon. Or is that not what the Patriots are looking for?