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 offseason pickups.
Name: Matt Tobin
Position: Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 64
Opening day age: 28
Size: 6’6, 310 lbs.
2017 review: Coming off a stint on injured reserve, the Philadelphia Eagles decided to trade away offensive lineman Matt Tobin during last year’s training camp. Together with a seventh-round selection, the team therefore shipped him to the Seattle Seahawks – a franchise in need of quality talent along its line. Despite Seattle having plenty of issues in front of quarterback Russell Wilson, however, Tobin failed to earn a starting role.
While the former undrafted free agent appeared in 15 of the Seahawks’ 16 games last year, he only saw marginal action on offense: Tobin played a mere 81 snaps as a rotational offensive tackle (of 988; 8.2%), with 31 of them coming in his team’s week 10 meeting with the Arizona Cardinals. He was solid as a backup option but still unable to further climb up the depth chart. As a result, Tobin saw most of his action on special teams.
The Iowa product played a combined 94 snaps in the kicking game (of 450; 20.9%) and served as blocker on field goal and extra point attempts. All in all, the 2017 season was an unspectacular one for Tobin – a player that has 21 career starts under his belt but failed to crack the starting lineup on an offensive line that was below-average in both run and pass blocking.
2018 preview: When the Patriots lost free agent Nate Solder to a record-breaking contract offer, the team had a big hole to fill at its offensive tackle position. In order to do that, New England explored the draft, the trade market, and free agency – and also found Tobin, whose contract with Seattle was not extended. Therefore, the Patriots were able to sign the veteran to a one-year, $815,000 contract.
The minimal financial investment already reflects Tobin’s standing on the team: he is far from a lock to make the 53-man roster, and could very well end up on the open market again once roster cuts come around. After all, Tobin is near the bottom of New England’s depth chart at offensive tackle and will need to start showing improvement and take advantage of his versatility to earn a spot on the team.
Ultimately, however, it would be a surprise if the first-year Patriot ended up on the roster as the fourth option behind Trent Brown, Marcus Cannon, and Isaiah Wynn. LaAdrian Waddle has him beat for the backup right tackle spot and the moment, and while Tobin has plenty of experience at tackle and guard, he has shown little that would suggest a change to the pecking order during training camp. Maybe preseason will change this, but it’s unlikely.