The New England Patriots were quite active on the eve of their fourth and final preseason game, acquiring two offensive linemen via trade. First, the team brought offensive tackle Korey Cunningham on board from the Arizona Cardinals; later it also swung a trade to get now-former Baltimore Ravens guard/tackle Jermaine Eluemunor. The message is a simple one: the team felt a need to upgrade the depth up front.
As a result of the moves, the entire complexion of the Patriots’ offensive line has now changed. While depth players like Dan Skipper and James Ferentz appeared to have good chances of making the 53-man roster before Wednesday’s moves, they now might very well find themselves on the outside looking in. Despite some positive moments during training camp and the preseason, they are still quite inconsistent performers.
New England’s front office apparently felt the same way and consequently the need to add more depth by trading for Cunningham and Eluemunor. Both players bring some experience to the table — Cunningham started six games for the Cardinals during his 2018 rookie season; Eluemunor three games for the Ravens between 2017 and 2018 — and should serve as immediate upgrades over Skipper and Ferentz.
With that in mind, the world champions’ offensive line two days ahead of roster cutdowns can be broken down as follows:
Starters: LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Joe Thuney, OC Ted Karras, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon
Reserves: OT Korey Cunningham, OG Jermaine Eluemunor, OG Hjalte Froholdt
Non-football injury: OC David Andrews, OT Yodny Cajuste
Cut candidates: OT Dan Skipper, OC James Ferentz, OT Cole Croston, OC Tyler Gauthier, OT Tyree St. Louis, OT Martez Ivey, OT Cedrick Lang
Despite starting center David Andrews being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs and not expected back on the field for at least the next three months, the Patriots’ starting offensive line is pretty solid. While Wynn has not yet appeared in a regular season or playoff game after missing all of his 2018 rookie season with a torn Achilles tendon, the former first-round draft pick looked very good during his first two preseason games.
Andrews’ replacement, meanwhile, has some considerable experience: Karras has seven starts on his NFL résumé and while he never held a starting position for an extended period of time should be ready to do so this year. The 26-year-old has worked with quarterback Tom Brady before and spent a total of three years in the team’s system. While he is a downgrade from Andrews, Karras is still one of the best backup centers in the NFL.
Cunningham and Eluemunor will provide depth behind the two, with fourth-round rookie Hjalte Froholdt as a developmental option that is not expected to see much playing time in 2019. The other offensive linemen on New England’s current roster, meanwhile, appear to play for little more than the practice squad at this point in time with all but Ferentz eligible to join the 10-man squad.
Needless to say, therefore, that Wednesday’s trades have a profound impact on the big picture that is New England’s offensive line.