New England Patriots OTAs have come and gone and there was no shortage of off-field distractions.
Most of those centered around player absences, with the most notable coming in the form of Isaiah Wynn. The incumbent left tackle is expected to report for mandatory minicamp, but his decision to not participate in voluntary workouts sent shockwaves amongst Patriots fans, and understandably so.
While Matt Judon didn’t engage in OTAs, his reputation speaks for itself after he led the team in every major pass-rushing category last season. As for N’Keal Harry, his future clearly doesn’t lie with the Patriots. With a trade seemingly imminent, the former first-round pick likely didn’t want to risk injury.
But Wynn? What has he shown to warrant missing voluntary workouts? On the flip side, what did he have to risk by showing up and practicing?
Trade rumors have erupted amid this speculation, which begs the question of whether New England could (or should) actually unload Wynn.
Could the Patriots trade Isaiah Wynn before the start of next season?
From a roster standpoint, trading Wynn would be a gamble.
Trent Brown filled in at left tackle during Wynn’s absence at OTAs, with Justin Herron filling in on the right side. That might not inspire confidence given Brown’s injury history, but the 29-year-old does have experience at LT. The Patriots could shift Michael Onwenu to right tackle, but that would complicate the interior of the line, as Onwenu is expected to replace Shaq Mason at right guard after he got traded.
From a financial standpoint, though, the idea is intriguing, as Wynn is guaranteed $10.4 million next season after New England exercised his fifth-year option. Trading the former Georgia star would take his entire salary off the books. For a team that ranks dead-last in the NFL with $1.76 million in cap space, adding an extra $10 million would give the front office markedly more flexibility.
In turn, the Patriots could sign one of Duane Brown or Riley Reiff, two veterans who are surprisingly still braving free agency in early June, if they have any apprehension about Brown or Herron playing left tackle. Chances are they will come cheaper than Wynn’s $10.4 million in guaranteed compensation
If you asked The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, he’d tell you New England could “draw a decent return” for Wynn because he has “generally performed well when healthy and there’s such a shortage of offensive line talent.”
In a vacuum, trading Wynn is definitely feasible. Whether it’s the smartest decision, however, is open for interpretation.
The Patriots’ options at tackle behind the former first-round pick leave a lot to be desired and jettisoning your starting left tackle after you already lost two starters in Mason and Ted Karras would be risky business. We all know o-lines thrive off continuity and the last thing Mac Jones needs is a makeshift line learning to play together when his growth in Year 2 should trump all other priorities.
Based on the stir Wynn caused by not reporting to OTAs, though, New England should be considering any and all options with the 26-year-old.