The New England Patriots are banged up on the offensive line to start the 2023 season. They had to start two mid-round rookies against arguably the best defensive front in football in Antonio Mafi and Sidy Sow due to the Cole Strange and Michael Onwenu injuries. Now Trent Brown is missing practice, and David Andrews is limited.
Before these injuries, they had an issue at the right tackle position, starting Calvin Anderson, who didn't get any work in the offseason due to injuries, against the Eagles. They would rely on a 39-year-old Riley Rieff if it wasn't Anderson. To be frank, they have. How can they fix the lack of talent and an injury problem in the offensive trenches?
New England Looking Into La'el Collins
Collins may also have some injury history, but he played in 15 games last season for the Bengals protecting Joe Burrow. He had a down year in the pass-blocking metrics (44.2 PFF Grade); some of that is due to the schematic difference between Dallas and Cincy, but he was still a great run blocker. Before last season, he was a low to mid-70 grade again, according to PFF. Collins is still a beast in the run game, posting an average of 72.9 PFF grade in PFF. Regardless of the metrics, he is a better tackle than we have on the roster.
The Bengals cut him to make cap space to extend Joe Burrow to be the highest-paid player in NFL history. It was not due to his performance. That might have been a poor move since he was pressured a bunch on Sunday Vs. The Browns. This move would add some stability and talent to the unit.
If everyone were healthy, New England's offensive line would be Trent Brown at left tackle, Cole Strange at left guard, David Andrews at center, Michael Onwenu at right guard, and La'el Collins at right tackle. This is an above-average talented line with what seems to be a solid Klem and O'Brien scheme that made the make-shift unit that they had on Sunday look respectable for much of the game. This also adds another veteran voice who has won playoff games in an extremely young unit (Brown and Andrews are the exception).
Will New England Sign Him?
I think they will, and there are reports that Zeke is recruiting his former teammate while also vouching for him to his new coaching staff. This would make sense because Zeke had some of his most productive years with Collins sealing the edge on the right side of that line.
As I mentioned above, there is an obvious need for another lineman with a higher ceiling than some of the guys they have on the roster. Mac Jones looked solid on Sunday, but adding to his protection could put the Patriots in a better position to win football games this year.
New England may be tight against the cap to sign Collins to a reasonable one-year deal, but they have 97 million for 2024. They could easily sign him to a two-year 16 million dollar deal where his base salary is around two million and a six million signing bonus this year and backload the cap hit to next year. At 30 years old, he still has a few years left in his prime and could become a staple on that line.
End Of Rant
Mac Jones needs three things to be a top-12 type of QB: a great scheme, above-average weapons, and great protection. Currently, they seem to have an above-average scheme, average weapons, and okay protection. Adding Collins would make it suitable to great protection and increase the run game's efficiency, which can open more lanes in the play action concepts. This is a no-lose situation in my eyes.
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