The New England Patriots currently have 89 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the offseason, we take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Today, the series continues with one of New England’s defensive tackles.
Name: Lawrence Guy
Position: Defensive tackle
Jersey number: 93
Opening day age: 28
Size: 6’4, 315 lbs.
2017 review: After spending the first five years of his NFL career with four different teams, Lawrence Guy might just have found a permanent home during last year’s free agency: the former seventh-round draft pick signed a four-year, $20 million contract with New England to become a core member of the team’s defensive tackle rotation. He did just that in 2017 and played more snaps than any other of the Patriots’ players at the position.
Overall, Guy appeared in all 16 of the team’s regular season games and played 582 of a possible 1,060 defensive snaps (54.9%). He saw his workload increase during the postseason, playing 137 of 216 snaps (62.0%) in New England’s three playoff contests. When on the field, Guy did not stand out in any particular aspect of playing the defensive tackle position. He was, however, a consistent contributor all year long.
The veteran saw most of his action as an early-down, two-gap interior lineman that was used primarily as a run stopper but also as a part-time pass rusher. In that role, Guy registered a combined 72 tackles throughout the season – 64 of them coming against the run, including a team-high nine stuffed runs. He also notched 2.5 sacks as well as an additional three quarterback hits and seven hurries.
While his numbers do not stand out compared to other defensive tackles across the league, Guy proved to be a valuable rotational piece along the Patriots’ interior defensive line – especially with Malcom Brown missing time due to an ankle injury, Alan Branch being phased out of the rotation, and rookie Adam Butler being primarily used as a sub-package pass rushing specialist. Guy, on the other hand, was as steady as they come.
Besides playing defense, Guy also was regularly used in the kicking game as a rusher on field goal and extra point attempts. Overall, he played 199 snaps on special teams (of 540; 36.9%) and finished the season with a field goal block – coincidentally coming against one of his former teams, the now-Los Angeles Chargers.
2018 preview: After a successful albeit at times unspectacular first year in New England, the Patriots opted to slightly alter Guy’s contract: they added a $500,000 renegotiation bonus to his deal after the defensive tackle narrowly missed out on a playing time incentive of the same value last year. The move reflects how the team views Guy and his role on the defense – and that he can be expected to be a regular contributor again in 2018.
While the addition of Danny Shelton could potentially cut into his early-down playing time a bit, Guy will again see plenty of action as a de-facto starter along New England’s interior defensive line: he should be expected to be on the field for at least a half of the team’s snaps again as one of the top three at the position alongside Shelton and Malcom Brown. His role, however, might turn out to look a bit different.
Playing mostly as a run defender in 2017, New England might opt to give Guy more pass rushing snaps with Shelton and Brown both primary run defenders. It would therefore not be a surprise if he ultimately saw more playing time than last year, and registered more than the 12.5 quarterback pressures he had last year. A development like this one would certainly help a Patriots’ interior pass rush that was inconsistent last season.