The most glaring need on the New England Patriots' roster right now is at offensive tackle, where the team lost one of its starters via free agency: Starting left tackle Nate Solder signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the New York Giants. How the Patriots will fill Solder's old spot protecting Tom Brady's blindside remains to be seen - but one candidate to step into his shoes was brought back today.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Patriots re-signed LaAdrian Waddle:
Source: The #Patriots keep an important free agent after all. They’ve agreed to terms with OT LaAdrian Waddle on a 1-year deal. Their potential LT.
After two seasons as little more than an emergency option, Waddle had a quasi-breakout year in 2017. The former Detroit Lions offensive tackle established himself as the Patriots’ number three at the position behind Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon over the course of training cam. As such, he replaced Cannon at right tackle after the starter suffered a season-ending ankle injury in week eight. Waddle was solid when on the field and did not allow a sack in place of Cannon.
However, in late November the 26-year old suffered an injury himself and as a result was relegated to a backup spot again; Cameron Fleming took over starting duties at the right tackle spot for the remainder of the regular season while Waddle saw only rotational snaps on offense and special teams. He was backup in the starting lineup for the divisional playoffs but again exited the game with an injury. As a result, Fleming would start the AFC title game and Super Bowl.
Waddle had a productive season in 2017 but struggled to stay healthy once he was given the chance to start. Still, he showed that he can be more than just a backup tackle and as such has now been brought back to likely enter the battle for the starting left tackle spot.