Earlier this week, reports came out that the Patriots hosted Raiders center Stefen Wisniewski for a free agent visit. He has since left the Patriots facility and is visiting other teams. Drafted in the second round by the Oakland Raiders in the 2011 NFL Draft, Wisniewski was a mainstay on the Raiders interior offensive line for the last four years. Checking in at 6'3" and 315 lbs, Wisniewski offers the size profile to fill in at the left guard position. He struggled in 2014 while trying to play through a torn labrum and has since been replaced by Chiefs center Rodney Hudson. So the question is how much should the Patriots pay him?
At 26 years old, he offers more youth and upside to the Patriots on a 1-year deal than their 2014 starting left guard Dan Connolly. He does have experiencing starting at both guard and center, although he has not been a regular at the guard position since his rookie year. A good contract to use for a 1-year, prove it type deal comparison would be Patriots interior lineman Ryan Wendell. Wendell signed a 2-year deal worth $4.55M maximum (base value of $3.25M), with a maximum 2015 cap hit just a shade under $3M. Like Wisniewski, Wendell was coming off a season where he struggled mightily at center after a solid track record at the position in years past.
While Wisniewski would be a nice addition for the Patriots right before the NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars are also interested in him and have an opening at the center position and more cap space to work with. Where he signs could come down to which position he prefers playing at and if he's willing to slide in at guard and go for a championship while rebuilding his free agent value. The Patriots are often a rehabilitation center for veteran players looking to build up their free agent market for the following offseason. A potential Wisniewski signing would help to solidify the hole on the interior offensive line and allow the Patriots to maneuver around the draft and pick which player they want without the pressure of having to fill up a position. This move does not remove the interior offensive line as a need in the draft, but it certainly prevents a situation where a rookie is immediately thrown into the fire.