The new NFL year begins Wednesday, March 16, and with it, the advent of 2022's free agent marketplace. Leading up to that first day, we'll examine the landscape from a Patriots perspective, continuing with the offensive line.
PATRIOTS FREE AGENTS
Ted Karras (starting LG), Trent Brown (starting RT)
OTHER NOTABLE NFL FREE AGENTS
Terron Armstead (NO), Orlando Brown Jr. (KC), Duane Brown (SEA), Eric Fisher (IND), Morgan Moses (NYJ), Riley Reiff (CIN)
Karras and Brown were both starters and represent significant decisions for the team to make, ones that are likely tied to where Michael Onwenu ends up long-term. Onwenu started 2021 at left guard before the team settled in with Karras at that spot, with Onwenu serving as the swing back up tackle. Onwenu has potential at right tackle as well.
Still, it's easy to see the Patriots retaining both Karras and Brown, who are well versed in how New England does things and both seem to embrace the culture there. Both offer versatility, with Karras covering all three interior line positions and Brown able to flip flop between right and left tackle, even if 2018's stint at left tackle was a career outlier for the monstrous player.
Isaiah Wynn enters his final season as well so the long-term questions at tackle are only just beginning and they'll need a plan both in free agency and the draft to secure the edges of the protection for the future.
The lower levels of offensive depth have been slowly stacking experience, with Justin Herron getting four starts in 2021 after getting six in 2020. Yasir Durant started one game, while Yodny Cajuste got two in 2021 after spending the first two seasons of his career on Injured Reserve. 2020 sixth-round pick Will Sherman spent most of the year on the practice squad but did get called up for one game.
After Onwenu, who should project to a starting role in 2022, it's unclear what the long-range trajectory is for the depth pieces.
On one hand, a return of the entire 2021 line doesn't seem out of the question, but on the other, the team has some long-term questions that are more likely to be addressed in the draft rather than free agency. If Karras and Brown head elsewhere, things could change dramatically and put one of the external free agents in play.