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Patriots sign OT Marcus Cannon to 5-year, $32.5 million contract extension

The Patriots have solidified their offensive line for the foreseeable future.

The New England Patriots have reached a 5-year contract extension with right tackle Marcus Cannon, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss. The deal is for $32.5 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The Patriots drafted Cannon in the 5th round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Texas Christian University. Cannon was a projected first round pick until he was diagnosed with cancer (Non-Hodgkin lymphoma) at the NFL combine. Cannon has 29 starts over 75 career games. He is just 28 years old, which means that this contract will run through Cannon’s age-33 season. This might make Cannon a lifetime Patriot.

Cannon has primarily served as the #3 tackle on the roster and was able to step in for both left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Vollmer has been on the reserve list this season due to injuries; he is a free agent after this year and is not expected to return.

After performing well in 2013 under offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Cannon’s play fell apart under offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. Scarnecchia returned to the team this season and Cannon entered camp in the best shape of his life. He has been the Patriots top offensive lineman this season.

Cannon was set to be a free agent after this season and would have been a top three offensive tackle free agent. The upcoming offensive tackle draft class is very shallow, so the Patriots needed to make a move to ensure the offensive line will stay together.

Cannon is now under contract through 2021; left guard Joe Thuney is under contract through 2019; right guard Shaq Mason is under contract through 2018; C David Andrews will be a restricted free agent after 2017, while left tackle Nate Solder will be a free agent. The Patriots will likely look to extend Solder in the near future to ensure continuity on the offensive line.

Cannon had surprisingly developed into one of the Patriots priority free agents this season. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower is the big ticket left to sign, with tight end Martellus Bennett or running back LeGarrette Blount on deck, especially since edge defender Jabaal Sheard and cornerback Logan Ryan have seen reduced roles in recent weeks.

Update: ESPN’s Field Yates expects Cannon’s contract to be similar to the Chiefs 5-year, $33 million contract with RT Mitchell Schwartz. The average of $6.6 million per season would be a pay increase for Cannon, who was earning $4.5 million per year on his most recent deal. A $6.6 million contract is valued as the 21st most expensive veteran offensive tackle contract, which would imply the Patriots consider Cannon to be an above average starting tackle.

Update 2: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports the deal is for 5-years, $32.5 million.

The $6.5 million average per season makes Cannon the 22nd highest paid veteran tackle in the NFL and the 4th highest paid right tackle in the league.