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Patriots 2019 free agency profile: Ulrick John could offer some cheap offensive tackle depth

Will New England keep the journeyman around?

Washington Redskins v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New England Patriots ended the 2018 season in the best possible way, by defeating the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl 53. In order to stay on top of the NFL mountain, though, the organization will have to quickly turn the page to get itself into a position to create the best possible team for the 2019 season. And a big part of building such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency.

If judged by the list of free agents to be, New England’s front office will be busy over the next few weeks before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents-to-be to find out who may or may not get re-signed by the Patriots; and who should be a part of the 2019 squad. Today, we’ll continue the series with offensive tackle Ulrick John.

#67 Ulrick John

2019 opening day age: 27

2018 playing time: --

2018 statistics: --

2018 cap number: $473,000

The 2018 free agency period started slowly for Ulrick John as he remained on the open marked until the Patriots picked him up in late April. Initially seen as a candidate to compete for the starting left tackle spot formerly manned by Nate Solder, the team primarily used the journeyman on the right side of the line: he competed against LaAdrian Waddle for the top backup spot behind starter Marcus Cannon.

John appeared to have solid odds at winning it: during the regular season “dress rehearsal” — week three of the preseason — he was the first offensive tackle off the bench. However, a foot injury suffered early the following week put an end to his chances of earning the spot, and him on injured reserve by September 1. New England never activated him off the list, and John’s first season with the Patriots ended on the sidelines.

Why should he be re-signed? With both the aforementioned LaAdrian Waddle and starting left tackle Trent Brown headed towards unrestricted free agency, and with Isaiah Wynn coming off a season-ending Achilles injury, John would offer some cheap depth at a position facing some question marks this offseason. Even if his starting potential appears to be limited, he could have some value as a potential swing backup tackle.

Why should he be let go? While John will not break the bank in free agency, the team could still opt to go another way considering his comparatively low ceiling. While he had his moments last summer, adding a younger option or using the money to invest in a veteran like Waddle might be seen as the preferable option from New England’s perspective.

Projection: New England re-signs John on a deal similar to the one he signed last offseason: a one-year, $705,000 contract. Anything more than that would be a surprise.