The new NFL league year begins Wednesday, March 18, and with it, the advent of 2020's free agency marketplace. Leading up to that day, we'll examine the landscape from a Patriots perspective. Today we check out the offensive line.
PATRIOTS FREE AGENTS
Joe Thuney (UFA)
Ted Karras (UFA)
Marshall Newhouse (UFA)
Jermaine Eluemanor (RFA)
OTHER NOTABLE FREE AGENTS
Bryan Bulaga (Green Bay Packers), Anthony Castonzo (Indianapolis Colts), Jason Peters (Philadelphia Eagles), Jack Conklin (Tennessee Titans), Mike Iupati (Seattle Seahawks), Andrus Peat (New Orleans Saints)
Iupati, Connor McGovern (Broncos)
Joe Thuney has been an iron man for the Patriots at left guard since his arrival in 2016 and he has two Super Bowl rings to show for it. Now, with Thuney hitting free agency, it's unlikely the team will extend themselves after previously signing Shaq Mason to a lucrative contract extension.
Thuney's expected departure would open a spot on the starting offensive line, but with all of the team's free agents can left guard be a free agency priority? Probably not, though the team could consider moving Isaiah Wynn inside but that would open a bigger and harder-to-fill need at left tackle. Connor McGovern could be a versatile and affordable inside option who can play guard or center.
David Andrews missed the season after having to go on blood thinners to battle a blood clot in his lungs and Ted Karras did a solid job replacing him. Andrews is optimistic about returning but there's no guarantee and, with Karras set to hit free agency, the Patriots will need to know Andrews status.
Meanwhile, Marcus Cannon is due to be the second-biggest cap hit on the team next season. He'll turn 32 in May and the Pats could consider moving on.
Swing tackle Marshall Newhouse was out of place starting as a left tackle but was an effective third tackle and could be brought back into the mix. Second-year player Yodny Cajuste, who missed the year recovering from quad surgery, could be a factor at tackle, as could Korey Cunningham, who was acquired via trade last season but was usually a gameday inactive. Hjalte Froholdt spent his rookie season on IR but could be in the mix at guard to replace Thuney along with restricted free agent Jermaine Eluemanor, the interior backup in 2019, if he is retained.
Aside from Isaiah Wynn and Shaq Mason, there's a lot of uncertainty on the offensive line that is compounded by the retirement of Dante Scarnecchia. The team has traditionally developed their line in-house with their preferred starting five in 2019 fitting that bill. It's unlikely they'll make a big splash to replace Thuney or the backup swing spot, with candidates in-house and in the draft serving as this year's reinforcements. A versatile interior backup could be one place they look in free agency. Someone like Connor McGovern from Denver would fit the bill.