Earlier this week, it was reported that the New England Patriots are planning to release veteran offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Yesterday, the move was made official as Vollmer was released with a failed injury designation. After eight seasons together, the team and the 32-year old parted ways.
Let's take a look at what the transaction does or does not mean for the Patriots.
New England creates almost $1.8 million in additional cap space
The world champion Patriots entered the offseason with one of the largest salary cap spaces in the NFL. Due to Vollmer's release, New England has now gained an additional $1.785 million to work with, bringing the total — per patscap.com — to $60.3 million. With a long list of players about to enter free agency next week, every dollar counts when comes to re-signing players or bringing potential replacements to Foxboro.
Offensive tackle does not necessarily become an offseason priority
After Vollmer's release, the Patriots have three offensive tackles signed for the 2017 season: Starters Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon as well as last year's number four tackle LaAdrian Waddle. 2016's top backup at the position, Cameron Fleming, is a restricted free agent and while New England is expected to tender him, there is still a chance he ultimately leaves the team. If that happens, offensive tackle climbs the list of offseason priorities more than it does now that Vollmer is gone.
The Patriots say goodbye to one of their best second round draft picks
Since getting selected with the 58th pick of the 2009 draft, Vollmer had become a fixture on the Patriots' offensive line. Playing mostly on the right side but also being an emergency option on the left, the Houston product appeared in 98 games for the team and started two Super Bowls. While he was considered by many to be a reach on draft day, Vollmer turned into one of the best right tackles in the NFL over the last eight years — and one of New England's better second round selections.
Given the combination of injuries Vollmer was dealing with last season, his age, and his failed physical, it would not be a surprise to see the veteran call it a career and retire. But even if he joins another team and continues playing, the offensive tackle has secured his spot in Patriots history as bring one of the anchors of the team's offensive line for almost a decade.