Washington Redskins offensive tackle Jason Fabini. Photo by Getty Images.
On paper, the Patriots appear loaded on the offensive line.
After all, the entire left side (tackle Matt Light and guard Logan Mankins) and center Dan Koppen were Pro Bowlers after the 2007 season. The core group, including versatile backup Russ Hochstein, has been together for the past few years and remains under contract for at least the next couple of years.
But right guard Stephen Neal's nagging injuries, right tackle Nick Kaczur's inconsistent play, and the line's general breakdown in Super Bowl XLII have raised some questions about New England's durability up front.
Not one Patriots O-lineman is a free agent this offseason. The biggest names out there at the start were Pittsburgh guard Alan Faneca, who signed a monstrous contract with the Jets on day one of free agency, and Carolina tackle Jordan Gross and Cincinnati's Stacy Andrews, both of whom were franchised. Dallas tackle Flozell Adams would have become a free agent, but signed a six-year deal on the eve of free agency to remain a Cowboy.
Yet, there may still be some other linemen whom the Pats might be interested in signing.
Who's Out There
(Players listed alphabetically)
Matt Lehr, Tampa Bay
An on-again-off-again starter throughout his previous seven NFL seasons, the 28-year-old is now looking for his fifth team of his pro career. The 6-2, 304-pound Lehr could provide valuable depth at Koppen's spot.
Jeremy Newberry, Oakland
Newberry first became a starter for San Francisco in 1999, a spot he held until '05. He missed all of 2006 before signing across the Bay with Oakland last season. As a Raider, the 6-5, 315-pound Newberry started 14 games. With that size and experience, the 31-year-old would be a good addition to New England, but will likely attract attention elsewhere in the league as well.
Brett Romberg, St. Louis
Didn't play a down as a Jacksonville Jaguar from 2003-06. Midway through that final season, he was shipped to St. Louis, where he soon became a starter. Could benefit from tutoring from Pats O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
Rick DeMulling, *Washington
*In the first half of this decade, when DeMulling was a Colt, he started nearly every game for Indianapolis. He jumped to Detroit and Washington the past few years, where he hasn't had quite the success he found in Indy. At age 30, he still might have some good years left, and at 6-4, 304, may have the size to play either guard or tackle.
Rex Hadnot, *Miami
*Sure the Dolphins only won one game last year, but since November of 2004, Hadnot has started every game for the Dolphins. Only 26, he has the perfect blend of youth and experience to accompany his size (6-2, 325).
Milford Brown, St. Louis
Brown began his NFL career with the Texans, for whom he played sparingly until 2005, when he started 12 games. The next year, he moved to Arizona, then St. Louis last season. In both places, he started the majority of games in which he played. At 6-5, 330, the 27-year-old Brown has great size for a guard, and a good combination of youth and experience.
Jason Fabini, *Washington
*A solid starter in his many years with the Jets, Fabini played a season in Dallas before moving to D.C. At 6-7, 309, he's big enough to be a tackle, and versatile enough to play guard. He's 33, though, so he wouldn't be a long-term solution, but might have enough left to provide depth and perhaps start, if needed.
George Foster, Detroit
Foster started his career in Denver, long known as a factory for O-linemen, and had 45 regular season starts there. Last season, he jumped shipped to Detroit, but started only nine games out of 15 in which he appeared. He's massive (6-5, 338) and young (27), which means he could compete for the starting job on the right side with Kaczur.
Stockar McDougle, *Jacksonville
*A former first-round pick by Detroit, McDougle's best seasons came from 2002-04, when he started nearly every game for the Lions. Since moving back to his native Florida (Miami in '05 and Jacksonville last year) he has started just twice and landed on injured reserve. Still, at 6-6, 340, the 31-year-old might be worth bringing in to compete for a job in New England.