While the move has not yet been made official, the New England Patriots will join forces with a familiar player. According to reports, the team and veteran offensive tackle Marcus Cannon will reunite: Cannon, a fifth-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2011 who won three Super Bowls with the organization, will sign with the team’s practice squad.
Whether or not the move will be anything more than New England bolstering its depth at the position remains to be seen, but for now let’s take a look at what it means from a club perspective.
The Patriots improve their offensive line depth. With Cannon soon to return to the fold, New England will have five offensive tackles under contract: Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn, Yodny Cajuste and Justin Herron are all on the 53-man roster, with Cannon joining them on the practice squad. Additionally, starting right guard Michael Onwenu also has experience aligning at right tackle; Cannon, meanwhile, has seen some snaps on the inside earlier in his career. At least in theory, the move bolsters the depth at two positions.
A follow-up transaction will be necessary. The Patriots entered Thursday with all 16 available practice squad spots filled, meaning that one player needs to be moved to make room for Cannon. Who will it be? That will be known no sooner than Friday, given that the signing did not make the NFL transactions wire on Thursday afternoon. For what it is worth, one member of the developmental roster was not spotted during practice earlier that day: sophomore linebacker Cameron McGrone.
New England will pay Cannon up to $19,900 weekly while on the practice squad. Per the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, veteran players such as Cannon can earn up to $19,900 per week while on the practice squad; they earn no less than $15,400. Contract details are not yet known for the veteran, but no matter what sum he will eventually get from the Patriots it will be counted against their salary cap.
Cannon will be the fifth-oldest player on the team. At age 34 and with 11 NFL seasons under his résumé, Cannon will instantly become one of the most experienced players on the New England payroll once officially signed. Only four other players are older than him: special teamer Matthew Slater, kicker Nick Folk, quarterback Brian Hoyer and safety Devin McCourty. Like Cannon, Slater and McCourty are members of the three-rings club.
Cannon will become the fifth Patriot traded away by Bill Belichick to return. A player being sent away via trade and later returning is an uncommon occurrence: over the last 22 years of Bill Belichick’s leadership as head coach and general manager, it has happened only four previous times: cornerback Tebucky Jones, wide receiver Deion Branch, linebacker Jamie Collins and safety Jordan Richards all returned at one point after being sent elsewhere. Cannon will soon become the fifth member of that group.
Bringing back Cannon following his two-year stint with the Houston Texans is not a flashy move. However, the Patriots’ offensive tackle depth remains somewhat of a question mark heading toward the regular season opener in Miami on Sunday.
Starters Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn have an extensive injury history — the latter being limited in practice twice — as does backup Yodny Cajuste. Furthermore, fellow depth option Justin Herron was dealing with an ailment during training camp as well. Cannon’s return therefore gives New England some veteran depth that could probably slide right into a prominent role again if push ever came to shove this season.