New England Patriots: Marcus Cannon made Justin Herron expendable

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (61) celebrates after the win over the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. The Patriots won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (61) celebrates after the win over the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. The Patriots won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports /

The New England Patriots traded offensive tackle Justin Herron to the Las Vegas Raiders and a reunion with former coach Josh McDaniels. As trades go, it was rather a Patriot-like affair. They got little back, a 6th-round pick in 2024, and give up a lesser pick, a seventh in 2024, and the player.

This was certainly not an earthquake of trade but several points of interest can be gleaned from this. What was surprising is that the Patriots gave up a player who saw considerable playing time for a backup under McDaniels as offensive coordinator.

It wouldn’t make much sense except for one factor, the team had re-signed offensive tackle, Marcus Cannon. Let’s take a quick look at some of the backdrop around this surprising but not at all shocking trade.

New England Patriots offensive line depth is the issue

This space feels offensive line depth is an issue for the New England Patriots. So why give up a player who had a solid role as a backup, maybe the first backup tackle off the bench last season? had this to say about Herron’s New England tenure,

"Herron entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice of the Patriots back in 2020 out of Wake Forest. The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder had been a reserve tackle throughout his tenure in Foxborough. Over 28 regular season games played, Herron started in 10 of them. He also got the start in New England’s lone playoff game during the 2021 season."

He started let’s see, about 35 percent of the games in which he played in Foxborough. Considering he was never a regular starter, that’s a fair number of contests. One which he (and we) would like to forget is the last game he played for New England, the Buffalo playoff game blowout.

The fact of the matter is, though some would argue this point, that Herron was never a very good backup never mind a starting caliber player. Evidently, McDaniels thought otherwise and from a Raiders perspective, it made sense.

Here is what had to say about the Raiders’ tackle situation, and what likely precipitated the trade,

"That’s now been taken to a whole new level with news that right tackle Brandon Parker has been placed on season-ending injured reserve with a triceps injury. By making this move ahead of final cuts on Tuesday, Las Vegas will not be able to activate Parker at any point during the season. It’s somewhat surprising given that said injury didn’t initially seem to be serious."

McDaniels evidently likes the player. In addition, he needed a replacement for Parker, ergo, the trade was made. That’s quite logical for the Raiders. But what about the Patriots viewpoint?

New England Patriots rationale for trading Herron

There are a couple of reasons that made sense for the Patriots in this deal. First, Herron was never a very good player anyway. Then, the better reason, the team re-signed Marcus Cannon to their practice squad about two weeks ago.

The handwriting was on the wall for one of New England’s backup tackles (none of which are really very good) immediately upon that signing. Cannon, even at 34 is a better player than any other tackle on the Patriots bench.

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He was traded to Houston after the 2020 season from which he opted out. When he became a free agent, it was a no-brainer for Bill Belichick and company to sign him. It was both a welcome and an astute signing.

Cannon was always a steady and reliable right tackle for New England both as a run blocker and pass protector. He’s also a Super Bowl winner. Expect Cannon to be activated to the gameday roster for the predicted win over Baltimore.

In addition, with Isaiah Wynn struggling somewhat at the time to adapt to his new right tackle position (he’ll be just fine, thank you), Cannon could/would start if necessary sooner rather than later. In any event, he’ll be the number one backup should somewhat get dinged up.

This was a nice series of moves by Bill Belichick and his personnel people. As a space that is often taking the team to task for its poor personnel decision-making, this sure ain’t one of those cases, quite the contrary.

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After having signed Cannon as protection, they could easily afford to unload Herron. This was a really nice move for the Patriots to get a sixth-round pick (they seem to do quite well with those, frankly!).

The New England Patriots upgraded the most important unit on the football team. That’s the unit that makes it all happen, don’t you know? Anytime you do that, it’s a good move.