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NFL trade rumors: 5 potential destinations for Patriots offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn

Related: Report: Patriots discussing potential Isaiah Wynn trade

NFL: NOV 14 Browns at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Isaiah Wynn is in the middle of an offseason that can best be described as “interesting”.

After opting not to participate in the New England Patriots’ voluntary offseason workout program, he suddenly found himself playing a different position in mandatory minicamp. A three-year starter at left tackle, Wynn was moved to the right tackle spot, with former right tackle Trent Brown going in the opposite direction.

Wynn continued to line up at right tackle early in training camp, but was later forced to miss more than a week because of an undisclosed injury. His spot was primarily filled by fourth-year man Yodny Cajuste, who looked solid and is — to quote head coach Bill Belichick — in the middle of his best camp to date.

Wynn, meanwhile, has since returned to practice and rejoined the starting lineup. However, questions continue to follow him especially when it comes to one topic: his future with the team.

Not only do the Patriots coaches apparently see his future on the right side rather than as Mac Jones’ blindside protector, he also is entering the final year of his rookie deal: Wynn is playing on the fifth-year option at a fully-guaranteed base salary of $10.41 million — a significant number for a) a player who is headed for unrestricted free agency next March, and b) a team comparatively tight to the cap.

Push eventually coming to shove would therefore not be too big a surprise, especially in light of a report earlier this week that the Patriots have had discussions about trading the former first-round draft pick.

While there is no telling how substantial those talks were (or are), New England moving on from Wynn would make some sense if a player such as Cajuste is seen as a capable replacement for the 2022 season. So with that said, let’s take a look at some potential buyers and why they might be interested in obtaining him via trade.

Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders’ offensive tackle situation is a curious one. While Kolton Miller is locked into the left-side starting spot, second-year man Alex Leatherwood — the 17th overall draft selection just one year ago — might be on his way out: according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, all options are on the table.

Whether Las Vegas moves Leatherwood via trade or simply to a different position along the offensive line remains to be seen, but the team might still be interested in obtaining a ready-made starter to take over at right tackle (a position that was filled by ex-Patriot Jermaine Eluemunor most recently). Wynn would be just that, even though he has yet to play a non-preseason NFL game at the position.

What should help him make the transition, though, would be his familiarity with the Raiders offense. Led by long-time Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the team has taken on the same basic scheme run in New England for the last decade — including Wynn’s four years with the organization.

Dallas Cowboys: With Tyron Smith suffering a knee injury in practice this week that will sideline him until at least December, if not for the entire season, the Cowboys might be willing to explore the trade market in the coming days. If they do, they will likely take a serious look at Wynn.

Frankly, they might have to, as Blogging The Boys’ RJ Ochoa recently explained:

This problem wasn’t avoidable in the sense that it could have been prohibited, but the magnitude of the fallout could have been seriously mitigated with some proper attention delegated to the right places. The Cowboys felt like that was unnecessary and here we are.

It is still not too late for Dallas to make some not terrible lemonade out of these lemons, but they have to act quickly. The regular season is just about here and expectations around Mike McCarthy are as high and pressing as they have ever been.

He appears to be an ideal stop-gap candidate to replace the franchise’s long-time starting left tackle in 2022, after all: despite his own injury history being substantial, Wynn offers plenty of experience as a starter at the position and would only be a short-term commitment before his trip to free agency next year.

Dallas would also have the salary cap space to absorb his sizable contract. Additionally, sending Wynn out of the AFC might also be in New England’s best interest.

Chicago Bears: The Patriots sending one of their former first-round draft picks to Chicago? Well, that sounds familiar. Just a few weeks after trading wide receiver N’Keal Harry to the Bears, Wynn might be a candidate to join him in the NFC North.

Why? The Bears’ offensive line remains a work in progress after going through numerous configurations all summer and seemingly not yet finding its top-five. Adding Wynn to the mix would be yet another change, but his potential as a tackle/guard tweener would give Chicago a high-upside option to address it s issues.

The goal is to find a suitable combination of players to help protect sophomore quarterback Justin Fields as well as possible. Bringing Wynn aboard in exchange for either a late-round draft pick or another player in need of a change of scenery (see: Teven Jenkins) might do the trick.

Los Angeles Chargers: The Patriots sending one of their former first-round draft picks to Los Angeles? Well, that sounds familiar. Of course, fellow 2019 first-rounder Sony Michel was sent to the Rams; Wynn might be off to the Chargers.

Los Angeles is in a similar situation as the Bears: they have a young franchise quarterback who needs protecting. The main difference between Chicago and L.A. is that the Chargers are entering a potential championship window with Justin Herbert on a rookie contract; that is precisely why they have made some big investments all offseason.

Wynn would just be the latest of those, but he would help fill a need. While the left tackle spot is in the capable arms of sophomore Rashawn Slater, the right-side starter role appears to be up for grabs: Trey Pipkins is the frontrunner, but a healthy Wynn would be an upgrade over him — an upgrade that might just be available.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers are in full-on rebuild mode, but even so they probably do not want to leave their starting quarterback — either first-round rookie Kenny Pickett or veteran Mitchell Trubisky — hanging out to dry behind a leaky offensive line. And, make no mistake, the unit has been just that this summer.

Jett Hartman of Behind the Steel Curtain recently described the situation as follows:

There have been questions surrounding the unit since the free agency period began this past winter.

As the Steelers made moves to acquire the likes of James Daniels and Mason Cole, questions about the play at tackles and guard continued. Those concerns were not quieted when training camp began as the Steelers’ defensive front had their way with the offensive line on more than one occasion.

Advance to the preseason, and the Steelers line has been a mixed bag throughout the first two games.

From a need perspective, Pittsburgh trying to bring Wynn aboard would therefore make sense especially if Pickett ends up winning the starting gig. The biggest question when it comes to the team, however, is its financial situation: the move would leave the Steelers with under $300,000 in salary cap space with Top-51 rule set to expire on Sept. 8.

That said, if they think Wynn is a missing piece of sorts — and possibly a longer-term option as well — they would find a way to make both the finances and the compensation for the Patriots work.

At the end of the day, however, it all depends on how New England evaluates the situation at offensive tackle: Is having a solid starting tackle who has had bad injury luck in the past on the roster more valuable than roughly $10 million in cap relief plus some assets in return? If the answer to that question is yes, the reported talks will not mean anything and Wynn will stay put after all.

At this point in time, that appears to be a realistic outcome. If the answer is no, however, the five teams listed here do make sense as potential trade destinations.