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Patriots 2020 roster breakdown: Lawrence Guy is the leader of New England’s defensive line

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Related: Patriots roster breakdown: DT Nick Thurman

New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

With only a few days to go until their entire roster will report to training camp, the New England Patriots currently have 80 players under contract. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive roster cutdowns on September 5 and ultimately make the active team. Over the course of spring and summer — just like we did the last three years as well — we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots keep their dynasty alive in Year One after Tom Brady.

Today, the series continues with one of New England’s defensive tackles.

Hard facts

Name: Lawrence Guy

Position: Defensive tackle

Jersey number: 93

Opening day age: 30

Size: 6-foot-4, 315 pounds

Contract status: Under contract through 2020 (2021 UFA)

Experience

What is his experience? After starting 31 games at Arizona State, Guy entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in 2011. However, he never actually appeared in a game for the team: he spent his rookie season on injured reserve after suffering a concussion in training camp, and started 2012 on the Packers’ practice squad before being signed off of it by the Indianapolis Colts. Guy went on to appear in 12 games for the Colts before getting released the following season.

The then-San Diego Chargers claimed him off the waiver wire, and he went on to appear in 15 games for them between the 2013 and the 2014 seasons. That said, his tenure in San Diego was also not meant to last: the team parted ways with him early during his second year, allowing the Baltimore Ravens to claim him in September 2014. From that point on, Guy’s career found some stability as he spent two-and-a-half seasons in Baltimore and appeared in a combined 45 regular season and postseason games.

In 2017, he took the next step in his development. Since signing a four-year, $20 million free agency contract with the Patriots, Guy played in 48 regular season contests and seven playoff games for the team. A core member of New England’s defense, he earned a Super Bowl ring to cap the 2018 season and also was named to the organization’s Team of the 2010s. All in all, he enters his 10th year in the league with an impressive résumé to look back on that includes 126 total in-game appearances and one championship.

What did his 2019 season look like? Coming off the best season of his career up until that point, Guy was a lock to return to the Patriots’ interior defensive line in 2019 and to again play a vital role within the team’s front-seven both against the run and the pass. As such, he saw a heavy workload for the third straight season but was still able to deliver another quality campaign as a member of New England’s interior rotation alongside Adam Butler, Danny Shelton and, to a lesser degree, rookie Byron Cowart.

Guy was on the field for every one of the Patriots’ 16 regular season games as well as their lone playoff contest. Along the way, he played 572 of a possible 1,070 defensive snaps for a playing time share of 53.5% — tops among the team’s defensive tackles. His contributions to the team did not stop there: he also was a regular member of New England’s kicking game units. Appearing on punt return unit and both field goal/extra point squads, he was on the field for 177 of a possible 474 snaps in the game’s third phase (37.3%).

Despite his comparatively heavy exposure to special teams, Guy’s biggest impact still came on the defensive side of the ball. The veteran tackle finished his third year in the system with 13 quarterback disruptions — three sacks, three hits, seven hurries — and also recovered a pair of fumbles. Guy furthermore registered 58 tackles in the running game, of which 11 were counted as stuffs and two as tackles-for-loss. All in all, the 2019 campaign was therefore another successful one for the former journeyman.

2020 preview

What is his projected role? When Guy arrived in New England three years ago, he was used as a rotational defensive tackle who offered upside as a big-bodied two-gap defensive tackle. In this role, he has since played more than half of the team’s cumulative defensive snaps while moving between numerous spots along the line — a role he is also projected to play in 2020. Guy can therefore be considered a starting member of the Patriots’ defense.

What is his special teams value? As noted above, the 30-year-old has seen regular action in the kicking game over the course of his career: ever since he arrived in Baltimore in 2014, he was used extensively on special teams as well. This is expected to continue in 2020, with Guy projected to see action on New England’s punt return unit as well as the field goal and extra point kicking and blocking squads. He filled that role every year since 2017, and will keep doing so regardless of how his defensive workload develops.

Does he have positional versatility? While Guy may not be a player capable of playing all defensive line techniques, he has shown some solid versatility within his position on the interior. No matter if it is the nose alignment, the 3-4 end or the 4-3 defensive tackle, Guy has proven himself capable of playing at a high level. He has furthermore repeatedly shown up as a disruptor and pocket pusher in the passing game, and a stoutly anchored gap-filler against the run.

What is his salary cap situation? Entering the final year of the four-year free agency contract he signed with the Patriots in 2017, Guy is on the team’s books with a salary cap number of $5.37 million — a pact including his $2.9 million salary, a fully-guaranteed $1.37 million signing bonus proration, and $1.1 million in additional bonus money. While New England could create $4 million in cap savings by parting ways with the veteran, his deal is actually a very team-friendly one considering his role as a core defender.

What is his roster outlook? New England’s defensive front-seven saw some personnel turnover this spring, but Guy is here to stay: he is a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster this year and as the defensive line’s leader to again see prominent action while playing around half of their defensive snaps and one third of special teams snaps. The main questions heading into 2020 are therefore rather if Guy can a) keep up his high level of play despite a hefty workload, and b) earn himself a new contract before entering unrestricted free agency next March.