The New England Patriots o-line situation is unsettled heading into 2022

New England Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots offensive line situation as the team approaches the 2022 season seems a bit unsettled at the moment. And yet, that might not be such a bad thing at all.

Changes are on the way for certain as the team cut ties with two stalwart starters from 2021. They traded right guard Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and lost dual-purpose guard/center Ted Karras in free agency to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The relative merits or lack thereof are clear. They’re not positive. Yet, the aftermath and their replacements are a topic of critical concern for this season’s version of the New England Patriots.

The team’s two starting guards from last season are gone. They both have to be replaced. In addition, the offensive tackle situation is in flux, as Isaiah Wynn, the presumptive favorite to be the team’s offensive left tackle, decided not to attend any OTAs. He was replaced by Trent Brown during that time.

While Wynn did show up yesterday for the first day of the team’s three day mandatory minicamp, the significance of him not showing up for OTAs and other offensive line developments will be the topic of concern here as the team heads into the 2022 season.

The New England Patriots offensive line needs to be sorted out soon

This space has asserted that after the quarterback, no situation or “unit” on the team is more important than the offensive line for a number of reasons. Simply put, they determine the entire flow of any football game that is played.

Losing two key members of the five-man group has to be considered a serious point of discussion entering the 2022 season. The Patriots ostensibly moved early and demonstrably to fill one guard spot by drafting (many thought over-drafting) Cole Strange in the first round to replace one of the lost starters. The thought here is they should have drafted an offensive tackle.

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Assuming Strange does start (and why shouldn’t that be absolutely assumed?), the other spot will likely be filled by Michael Onwenu, a former 6th-round pick who has exceeded all expectations in his first two seasons in the league. Should Strange and Onwenu hold up, the guard position would be in relatively decent shape despite jettisoning two of their former starters this offseason.

Tackle, however, is certainly a position of question. In one of the teams’ best offseason moves, Trent Brown was re-signed after he decided to test free agency. Not only was he the left tackle in the team’s last Super Bowl-winning season, he remains the team’s best option at left tackle despite Wynn’s presence on the roster.

The report today was that the Patriots may have finally settled on that supposition as Wynn was inserted at right tackle for the first day of minicamp. He should remain there or play inside at guard. Wynn could be a terrific guard. His size profile fits there more than anywhere else on the line and his run blocking is well, road-grader quality. But that may be a bit too much to ask.

In any event, the emplacement of Trent Brown at left tackle, and moving Wynn to another spot on the line, can only be looked upon as a positive development. The Patriots waited too long in 2021 to move Onwenu into the right tackle position after Brown went out in the first game with an injury. It cost them dearly. Maybe they have learned a lesson.

Protecting Mac Jones is the o-line’s most important job. Brown at left tackle, protecting Jones’ blind side, is the best option they have. Plowing the road for the excellent running back room is another imperative. Wynn can do that nicely along with Brown, stalwart center, David Andrews, guard Onwenu, and very likely Strange as well.

Next. Mac Jones taking a leadership role in 2nd season with Pats. dark

All this change, while unsettling, could have a nice outcome. Patriots fans have to hope so. The team’s ultimate success is riding on just how well these transitions go. How it will turn out, we’ll have to wait to see. But, as Maverick said in the movie, “Top Gun” (the original), “… it’s looking pretty good so far”.