by Jason Howard Kelly
Yes, it’s true. As reported by Patriots insider Mike Reiss, along with Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Patriots have re-signed right tackle Marcus Cannon to what appears to be a 5-year contract extension.
Understandably, this is not exactly a sexy move that will really get Patriots fans excited, but this was an incredibly important signing. Marcus Cannon has far exceeded expectation since filling in for the injured Sebastian Vollmer to start this season. Cannon is playing at the highest level of his career, and has been justly rewarded for it. Whether it’s the return of offensive line guru Dante Scarnecchia or the fact that Cannon lost weight in the offseason to improve his conditioning it is plain to see that he has taken a big step forward this year. The Patriots’ offensive line play has been spotty, to say the least, but Cannon has been perhaps the most consistent player on that line.
The other important aspect to this signing is the veritable wasteland that is the 2017 free agent class at the right tackle position. Sebastian Vollmer will be a free agent, and given his injury problems and age (32) his value has severely dropped. After that it is truly the slimmest of pickings. Marcus Cannon is better than the remaining options, such as aging players like Godster Cherilus and Eric Winston, or below average players such as Mike Remmers and Marshall Newhouse.
The big question now is this: what does this signing mean for the Patriots other potential free agents such as Dont’a Hightower, Malcolm Butler and LeGarrette Blount? That part of this story is still to come once the exact numbers of Cannon’s contract are released. It is reasonable to assume that the Patriots were able to sign Cannon to a low-money extension considering the fact that this has been his only stand-out season thus far in his 6-year NFL career.
Regardless, the lack of any apparent progress on contracts for high-level defensive players like Hightower and Butler is concerning for Patriots fans. Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones have already been shipped out of town for reasons largely unknown. Can this Patriots defense afford to lose two more impact players? As a Magic 8 Ball would say, “Outlook Not So Good”.