After missing back-to-back practices due to a knee injury, second-year offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste was sent to the New England Patriots’ injured reserve list on Thursday. The move created an open spot on the team’s 53-man roster, with various options to fill it — from one of the team’s practice squad options like kickers Nick Folk or Justin Rohrwasser, to potential outside acquisitions.
Enter Caleb Benenoch, who the Patriots brought in for a free agency workout on Thursday. Benenoch is a familiar face in New England, having spent a part of the team’s 2019 season on its active roster.
The UCLA product originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016. After serving as a rotational backup option over his first two years in the league and starting a combined six games (one at guard, five at right tackle), he was elevated to a regular starting role in 2018: the 6-foot-5, 310-pound blocker became the Buccaneers’ top option at right guard and went on to play 843 of 1,115 offensive snaps.
New head coach Bruce Arians moved him again — this time to right tackle — but he failed to carve out a consistent role within the Buccaneers’ offense. While he did survive roster cutdowns, the 26-year-old was ultimately released in mid-September and remained on the open market until the Patriots picked him up a short time later. However, Benenoch did not see any in-game action for his new team before his release two weeks after joining the club.
Since getting cut by New England in mid-October 2019, Benenoch spent time with three other clubs: the Carolina Panthers, the Dallas Cowboys and most recently the Detroit Lions. He appeared in no games for the three teams, and remained unsigned after the Lions parted ways with him last month. The Patriots’ interest in combination with the new practice squad rules — up to six veteran players can be added to the developmental roster — could now help him find a new home again, though.
New England’s current offensive line, meanwhile, is comparatively deep even with Cajuste on IR for at least three weeks. Starting tackles Isaiah Wynn and Jermaine Eluemunor are backed up by Korey Cunningham and Justin Herron. The interior line, meanwhile, is headed by center David Andrews as well as guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason; Hjalte Froholdt and Michael Onwenu are the depth options behind the trio.
Benenoch would add experience to the equation after having played a combined 35 games over the course of his career so far.