The New England Patriots had three offensive tackles on their 53-man Super Bowl roster, but only one of them — starting right tackle Marcus Cannon — returned in 2019. The other two, meanwhile, left via free agency: Trent Brown, the starter at left tackle, signed a record-breaking deal with the Oakland Raiders; backup/swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle joined the Buffalo Bills on a one-year contract a few days later.
Ever since the two departures, New England’s offensive tackle depth has been suspect. While second-year man Isaiah Wynn was locked in as Brown’s replacement despite coming off a year-long stint on injured reserve, the search for a third option proved to be difficult as neither offseason acquisition Dan Skipper nor veteran pickup Jared Veldheer worked out. The Patriots ultimately brought in Marshall Newhouse and Korey Cunningham.
The inconsistent Newhouse has since replaced Wynn in the starting lineup — he will miss at least eight games because of a toe injury — while Cunningham has been a healthy scratch for all but one game this season so far. Given the state of the position at the moment, it is no surprise that the Patriots were trying to add another body to the equation: as first reported by Forbes’ Phil Rogers, New England tried signing Alex Bars to its 53-man roster.
Bars, who has since confirmed the report, started the season on the Chicago Bears’ practice squad after the team signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent. The 24-year-old has experience at both tackle and guard — he played both positions during the preseason — and would have added developmental upside to a Patriots’ offensive line. Alas, he decided against coming to New England despite being offered a spot on the active team.
Instead, the Bears increased Bars’ salary and later promoted him to their own 53-man roster after right guard Kyle Long was placed on injured reserve. The Patriots, meanwhile, made no changes to their own active team since and will either look elsewhere in case they want to upgrade the depth at the position or swing a deal before the trade deadline on October 29. Wynn, on the other hand, will remain out until at least Week 11.
Regardless of the starting left tackle’s status, New England’s pursuit of Bars shows that the team feels like it needs to bolster its offensive line.