The New England Patriots‘ relative inactivity turned into what seems to be a bit of an overhaul. After taking the time to re-sign key players such as Devin McCourty, James White, Nick Folk and Brian Hoyer, they quickly went on another direction.
Shaq Mason was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fifth-round pick to clear cap space in both 2022 and 2023. The Patriots gained about $7 million in flexibility this offseason and another $8+ million next year.
There is one problem, though. Mason’s departure further thins their offensive line, which is already without Ted Karras, who left for the Cincinnati Bengals, and Trent Brown, who’s currently a free agent and will likely cost an AAV of $10+ million.
Has Bill Belichick already found a solution on the trade market? According to the latest buzz, the Patriots have “weighed” making a deal for Cowboys offensive tackle La’el Collins. Dallas put the veteran on the trade block this offseason and he’s expected to find a new home relatively quickly.
The Patriots might revamp their offensive line with Cowboys’ La’el Collins.
With Mason and Karras gone, the Patriots can shift Michael Onwenu to the inside to utilize him more often after his bizarre 2021 season. Then perhaps New England will address the other guard position in the draft because it’s not looking like they’ll be able to afford another valuable offensive lineman in free agency if they also chase Collins.
In the event that happens, the Pats would be inheriting a very cost-effective three-year, $30 million contract for a player entering his age-29 season. Though he’s the same age as Mason, tackles are undoubtedly more valuable than guards, and Collins could serve as an insurance policy for Isaiah Wynn should the team opt to not re-sign him after the 2022 season.
A lot of financial tinkering was on the way for the Patriots since they had just around $7 million to spend entering the offseason. McCourty’s voided deal allowed for a cheaper cap hit, which helped, and now the team’s cap space stands at $13 million after the Mason deal, leaving plenty of room for a Collins acquisition.
It’s unclear what other moves might be in the works, but there aren’t a whole lot of roster-slashing decisions to make to free up cap space. Fans could very well be looking at a Collins trade with incoming draft picks as the top offseason transactions.
Then again, the Mason trade took everyone by surprise, so perhaps there’s some more beneath-the-surface stuff on the way that fans can’t detect at the moment.