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Patriots 2019 free agency profile: New England would need a new swing tackle if LaAdrian Waddle left

Waddle has been a valuable depth option for New England the last three-plus seasons.

NFL: AFC Championship Game-New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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 days before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Over the last few weeks, we therefore took 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 end the series with offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle.

#68 LaAdrian Waddle

2019 opening day age: 28

2018 playing time: 19 games (16 regular season + 3 playoffs); 25.4% offensive snaps, 15.6% special teams snaps

2018 regular season statistics: 3.0 sacks, 5 hits, 10 hurries given up

2018 cap number: $1.64 million

One week after the start of 2018’s free agency, the Patriots re-signed backup offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle to a one-year contract. Over the course of training camp, the veteran served as the fourth option at the position but benefitted from first-round rookie Isaiah Wynn injuring his Achilles in preseason. Waddle later made the club as the top backup swing tackle — a role that saw him appear in all 19 of New England’s games last year.

The 27-year old was given his most in-game action in weeks two, six and seven, when he filled in as the starter for injured right tackle Marcus Cannon. Waddle also stepped up in week ten, when left tackle Trent Brown struggled with illness and back issues. Outside of those games, during which he was as serviceable as a backup can expected to be, he saw most of his snaps in the kicking game.

Why should he be re-signed? Waddle is a proven and experienced commodity as a third tackle option, and could thus prove valuable to the world champions — especially with Trent Brown a free agent and Isaiah Wynn coming off a season-ending injury. Furthermore, his price tag will likely remain modest in light of his relatively limited playing time over the last three years.

Why should he be let go? Even if Brown does not get re-signed, Waddle and his comparatively limited upside could be deemed expendable by the Patriots. On top of that, the veteran could also seek more cash and/or a starting role on the open market — two things the Patriots are likely not able or willing to offer him.

Projection: Considering the uncertainty surrounding Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn, New England will likely try to keep Waddle around on a deal similar to the one he signed last offseason: a one-year contract, worth around $1.5 million and comparatively low on guarantees.