The New England Patriots were quit busy on the second day of the NFL legal tampering period. While they did again not sign any outside free agents, a pair of trades was swung: Chase Winovich was shipped to Cleveland in exchange for fellow linebacker Mack Wilson, while guard Shaq Mason was sent to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fifth-round draft pick.
On top of these moves, New England also re-signed running back James White on a two-year deal. Heading into the final day of the 2021 league year, the club has therefore shaken up its roster quit a bit.
With that said, let’s find out who may or may not have benefitted from Tuesday’s transactions.
Loser: QB Mac Jones
While the Patriots still have a lot of time to rebuild their offensive line to give Mac Jones the best possible protection, the team’s quarterback now saw the team’s two starting guards depart in back-to-back days. After Ted Karras signed a three-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, Shaq Mason was traded to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
New England did re-sign James White as a receiving back/safety blanket on Tuesday as well, but the uncertainty along the O-line is worrisome. One thing cannot be denied, however: protecting Jones is paramount, and the Patriots have made the task a tougher one by moving on from Mason.
Loser: C David Andrews
David Andrews and Shaq Mason entered the league together in 2015, and they took over starting roles at center and right guard, respectively, the following year. In total, they have started 89 games alongside one another — including two of the Patriots’ Super Bowl wins.
They also formed one of the best center-right guard duos in football. Now, however, the two have been split up. With Mason heading to Florida, Andrews will now have to get used to a new permanent right guard for the first time in his career and, following Ted Karras’ departure, a new left guard as well.
Winner: OL James Ferentz
With Mason and Karras both out of the picture, the Patriots’ projected top backup along the interior offensive line can be seen as a winner just one day after re-joining the club on an expected one-year deal. Of course, New England is not done adding talent to the position group, but the path to a roster or practice squad spot has just gotten a bit easier for a player of Ferentz’s experience in the system.
Losers: LB Raekwon McMillan, LB Cameron McGrone, LB Anfernee Jennings
Entering Tuesday, Raekwon McMillan, Cameron McGrone and Anfernee Jennings were considered the top off-the-ball linebackers under contract with the Patriots. And with Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jamie Collins all headed for unrestricted free agency, there is a realistic chance all three will play considerable roles in 2022.
That being said, the addition of Mack Wilson muddies the waters a bit. Wilson is coming off a solid season in Cleveland, even though he was used as a part-time player. He does have starting experience, however, and might just push one, two or all three of McMillan, McGrone and Jennings down the depth chart a bit.
Winners: DE Henry Anderson, S Cody Davis
Entering free agency week, the Patriots had multiple options to generate cap space. Among the potential moves to save some money was releasing defensive lineman Henry Anderson and special teams safety Cody Davis.
While the two veterans could still be cut over the coming days, New England just created $6.3 million in cap space by trading Shaq Mason. As a result, the need to move on from Anderson and/or Davis — moves that would result in combined net cap savings of $2.95 million — is not as pressing any more.
Loser: RB J.J. Taylor
J.J. Taylor’s future in New England is very much uncertain. Not only did the young running back play a minimal role on the team in 2021, even after it lost James White to a season-ending hip injury, he also just saw the team bring White back on a two-year deal.
At the moment, Taylor is therefore the fourth running back on the roster and the number two receiving option behind White. Needless to say that his outlook did not improve with the team captain being brought back into the fold.