With more than a month to go until the NFL trade deadline, the New England Patriots have made a move. According to several reports, they have traded third-year offensive tackle Justin Herron to the Las Vegas Raiders for a draft pick exchange in 2024.
What exactly does the transaction mean from a Patriots perspective, though? Let’s take a closer look at it to find out.
The offensive tackle depth chart is down to four...ish: Herron entered training camp as the No. 3 offensive tackle behind starters Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn, but by the end of it had slipped to the fourth spot on the depth; he was leapfrogged by fourth-year man Yodny Cajuste. With Cajuste now the swing tackle and primary backup, and with former Patriot Marcus Cannon returning via the practice squad, the team apparently felt confident in trading Herron.
As a result, New England now has four pure offensive tackles on its payroll: Brown, Wynn and Cajuste are on the 53-man roster, while Cannon is on the practice squad. However, their OT depth extends beyond those four given that starting right guard Michael Onwenu also has considerable experience at the right tackle position.
The 2020 draft class is down to four: The Patriots selected 10 players in the 2020 NFL Draft, but only four of those remain with the team after the Herron trade. Second-round picks Kyle Dugger (2-37) and Josh Uche (2-60) are still in New England, as are third-rounder Anfernee Jennings (3-87) and the aforementioned Michael Onwenu, a sixth-round selection that year (6-182).
Herron, meanwhile, has now joined a group of six players from that draft class no longer with the team. Third-rounders Devin Asiasi (3-91) and Dalton Keene (3-101) were released earlier this year, while Justin Rohrwasser (5-159), Cassh Maluia (6-204) and Dustin Woodard (6-230) have already left the team a while back.
New England slightly increases its 2024 draft capital: Via the reported terms of the trade, the Patriots sent Herron and a seventh-round selection in 2024 to the Raiders in exchange for a sixth-rounder that same year. Naturally, the 2023 season will determine where those picks eventually end up, but the bottom line is that New England earned a few points on the draft value chart.
The Herron trade, by the way, is not the first one altering the Patriots’ slate of selections in 2024. They already added another seventh-rounder as part of the trade that sent N’Keal Harry to the Chicago Bears.
The Patriots create salary cap space, for now: Moving a player off the team naturally creates some salary cap space. In Herron’s case that number is $795,555 — the remaining non-guaranteed base salary still on his deal. Likewise, his remaining $86,234 signing bonus proration will remain on New England’s books as dead cap: half will hit the 2022 books, the other half the 2023 payroll.
The Patriots’ cap savings will be short-lived, however. The expectation is that defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale, who was suspended for the first two weeks of the season, will fill his open spot on the team.