With the preseason underway, the New England Patriots have fully set their sights onto their upcoming 2022 campaign.
The Patriots currently have 80 players under contract, but only 53 of them will be able to survive roster cutdowns in late August and ultimately make the active team. Over the course of spring and summer, just like we have in years past, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping New England build on its 10-7 record.
Today, the series continues with rookie veteran defensive lineman Lawrence Guy.
Name: Lawrence Guy
Position: Defensive tackle/Interior defensive line
Jersey number: 93
Opening day age: 32
Size: 6-foot-4, 315 pounds
Contract status: Under contract through 2024 (2025 UFA)
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 first joining the Patriots that offseason, Guy has played in a combined 87 regular season and playoff contests for the team. A core member of New England’s defense, he earned a Super Bowl ring to cap his 2018 campaign and also was named to the organization’s Team of the 2010s. All in all, he has now appeared in 159 NFL games — not too bad an accomplishment for a player who heard 232 other names called in the draft before it was his turn.
What did his 2021 season look like? After spending the previous four seasons as a starter-level member along New England’s defensive line, Guy was set to enter unrestricted free agency in March 2021. He indeed made it to the open market, and after nearly two weeks of what looked like relative inactivity returned to the Patriots: the team and its most experienced D-lineman reached an agreement on a new four-year contract that would keep him signed through the 2024 season — all while playing on a relatively modest deal.
The first year of that pact looked a lot like Guy’s previous four in New England. He played a prominent role at the heart of the defense and was on the field for roughly 50 percent of the unit’s snaps on the year: appearing in all 17 regular season contests plus the wild card playoff defeat in Buffalo, Guy played a combined 561 of a possible 1,135 defensive snaps. His 49.4 percent playing-time share ranked fourth among the Patriots’ defensive tackles behind Davon Godchaux (59.3%), Christian Barmore (55.6%) and Deatrich Wise Jr. (49.5%).
While he was “only” the number four in the rotation in terms of opportunities, Guy was a valuable member of the New England defense once again. In total, he was credited with nine combined quarterback pressures — including 1.5 sacks — and also registered a fumble recovery. Additionally, 61 of his 64 tackles came in the running game; on the flip side, he also missed a total of six tackle attempts for a relatively high rate of 8.6. The inconsistencies in that area were a reflection of Guy’s year as a whole.
He did have a lot of very good moments — see: Week 13 versus the Buffalo Bills, for example — but also had occasional ups and downs: Guy was inconsistent at controlling gaps at times, which in turn contributed to the Patriots’ run game issues. As noted above, he also missed tackles at an uncharacteristically high rate. He furthermore was not voted a captain after holding the title the previous season. All things considered, though, the veteran defender was quite solid once again and a big reason for the Patriots’ defensive success.
What is his projected role? When Guy arrived in New England during the 2017 offseason, 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 2022. Guy can therefore be considered a starting member of the Patriots defense, who will help control the line of scrimmage against both the pass and the run.
Does he have positional versatility? While Guy may not be a player capable of playing all defensive line techniques at the same high level, he has shown some solid versatility within his position on the interior. No matter if he is used in a nose guard/0-tech alignment, as a 3-4 end or 4-3 tackle, or anywhere in between, Guy has proven himself capable of being a consistent contributor. He has furthermore repeatedly shown up as a disruptor and pocket pusher in the passing game, and a stout gap-clogger against the run.
What is his special teams value? Guy 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. Even though his special teams opportunities decreased a bit in 2020, he was again a steady member of three units last season: Guy played a combined 180 of 464 special teams snaps in 2021 (38.8%) while moving between New England’s punt return unit as well as the field goal/extra point kicking and blocking squads.
What is his salary cap situation? As noted above, Guy signed a new four-year contract with the Patriots last March. As part of that deal, the 32-year-old is carrying a salary cap figure of $4.5 million into the 2022 season — a relatively small number for a player of his potential role on and off the field. That number is created by adding his partially-guaranteed $2 million salary to a $250,000 signing bonus proration and a total of $2.25 million in additional bonuses.
How safe is his roster spot? The Patriots would save $3.25 million against their salary cap by parting ways with Guy ahead of the roster cutdown deadline, meaning that his standing on the team might not be as secure as one would think. That said, his usage over the course of the summer suggests he will stay put after all: New England used him as part of its starter-level defense throughout training camp and preseason, and he generally did perform well when on the field.
One-sentence projection: Guy will make the team and again play around 50 percent of defensive snaps alongside fellow defensive linemen Davon Godchaux, Christian Barmore and Deatrich Wise Jr.