The New England Patriots, who are currently in their middle of their 2019 training camp, have 90 players on their active roster at the moment. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on August 31 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the summer, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.
Today, the series continues with New England’s starting right tackle.
Name: Marcus Cannon
Position: Offensive tackle
Jersey number: 61
Opening day age: 31
Size: 6’6, 335 lbs.
2018 review: After Marcus Cannon’s 2017 campaign ended just seven games in due to a season-ending ankle injury, the veteran offensive tackle bounced back nicely in 2018. While he failed to appear in all nineteen of the Patriots’ games — he missed one game with a calf injury and two others because of a concussion — he did prove himself a mostly reliable and productive member of the club’s starting offensive line.
All in all, Cannon was on the field for 835 of a possible 1,119 offensive snaps during the regular season (74.6%) before playing all 252 over the course of New England’s three postseason contests. Furthermore, the former fifth-round draft pick saw regular action in the kicking game as well: as a member of the club’s field goal protection units, he played a combined 72 special teams snaps in 2018 (of 545; 13.2%).
As he has been ever since taking over as the team’s starting right tackle in 2016, Cannon was a solid pass protector last season. He surrendered 29 quarterback disruptions on the year — a solid number considering the number of snaps played: he allowed Tom Brady to be sacked just twice, while also giving up 11 hits as well as 16 hurries. Cannon finished the year as Pro Football Focus’ eight best right tackle, and his work in the passing game must have been a big reason for that.
His run blocking was also again serviceable. The Patriots averaged 6.1 yards per carry when running behind the right tackle position, and Cannon’s strength in combination with his solid technique certainly played a considerable role in this. While he was a bit more inconsistent in the ground game when compared to his work as a pass blocker, he did show up when it mattered most: the playoffs, when he helped the Patriots to 126 rushing yards on 15 carries behind his position.
All in all, the 2018 campaign was therefore a very good comeback season for Cannon: he showed why he is still one of the better right tackles in football, and capped the year with a very good postseason performance that ended with his third Super Bowl ring. You can’t ask much more of a season than that after finishing the previous one on the sidelines.
2019 preview: Entering the third season of a five-year, $32.5 million contract extension Cannon signed with the Patriots in 2016, the 31-year-old is locked in as New England’s starting right tackle. Even though he hits the world champions’ salary cap with $7.47 million — making him the seventh most expensive right tackle in the NFL — his veteran presence and experience in combination with a proven track record make Cannon a valuable player.
As has been the case throughout his career, however, the main question with him is neither talent nor productivity: his health has been a concern in the past and he missed games because of injury in all but two of his eight NFL seasons. When healthy, though, Cannon is a player that can be counted on to do his job: he is physical and powerful as both a road grader in the running game, and a reliable protector in the passing game.