Justin Herron

Latest On Patriots LT Isaiah Wynn

June 5: Wynn is indeed expected to be present at the Patriots’ mandatory minicamp, which opens on June 7, per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (Twitter link). Howe tweets that Wynn’s absence was not related to a desire to be dealt.

May 29: Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn was absent for the team’s voluntary OTAs last week, and that has led Mike Reiss of ESPN.com to wonder if the club might consider an O-line shakeup. Trent Brown, who agreed to a two-year contract in March and who is currently penciled in at right tackle, took the LT reps in Wynn’s absence.

Though missing a series of voluntary May practices may not be significant for a more established player, one would think that a player in Wynn’s situation would want to take every opportunity to continue developing his game. For one, the Georgia product is eligible for free agency at the end of the season, and if he turns in a strong performance in 2022, he could set himself up for a massive payday in 2023.

Second, 2021 was the first time that Wynn had appeared in more than 10 games in a season. He missed his entire rookie campaign in 2018 due to a preseason Achilles tear, and a toe injury in 2019 and a knee ailment in 2020 limited him to a total of 18 games across those two seasons. Last year, he suited up for 16 contests, and while Pro Football Focus assigned him a strong overall grade of 74.9, Reiss suggests that New England might be regretting exercising his fifth-year option for 2022, which includes a fully-guaranteed $10.4MM salary.

Perhaps Wynn skipped OTAs because he does not believe his hold on the LT job is truly in jeopardy and because he wants to limit his exposure to another injury whenever possible. However, his decision opened the door for Brown — who parlayed a strong performance at left tackle for the Pats in 2018 into a lucrative free agent contract with the Raiders the following year — to begin building chemistry with first-round rookie Cole Strange, the club’s presumptive left guard.

Justin Herron, the 2020 sixth-rounder who has started 10 games for the Pats during his first two years in the league due to injuries to Wynn and Brown (among others), took over RT duties during OTAs. Brown himself appeared in just 14 games over the 2020-21 seasons, so the swing tackle role is an especially important one in Foxborough at the moment.

Given recent history, there is a good chance that Wynn, Brown, and Herron will all see time as Mac Jones‘ blindside blocker in 2022. Wynn, though, has the most upside and perhaps the most to gain, and he will begin his quest for a top-of-the-market deal — and perhaps to reestablish himself as the unquestioned starter at LT — when mandatory minicamp opens in June.

AFC East Notes: Davis, McCourty, Pats, Bills

Corey Davis will be expected to play a critical role for the Jets this season, but he will need some time off first. The fifth-year wide receiver suffered a shoulder injury during Jets OTAs, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Davis landed on his shoulder after attempting to make a leaping catch. This is believed to be a minor shoulder strain, though Garafolo adds that Dr. James Andrews examined the former top-five pick. Davis, who signed this year’s second-most lucrative wideout contract (three years, $37.5MM), is not expected to require surgery.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Dolphins added Jason McCourty early this month. The veteran cornerback is expected to play a key depth role in Miami, and Brian Flores said (via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald) some work at safety is possible for the three-year Patriots corner starter. McCourty saw most of his snaps at corner in 2020 but did work as a safety on 75 plays. The Dolphins let Bobby McCain go this offseason but have ex-Pats corner Eric Rowe and second-rounder Jevon Holland at safety. As for McCourty’s compensation, Jackson adds the 33-year-old defender signed for the veteran minimum. His base salary is nearly fully guaranteed, with OverTheCap noting McCourty is locked into $987K of that $1.1MM figure.
  • Joe Thuney‘s departure for Kansas City will create a vacancy at New England’s left guard spot for the first time in many years. The Patriots‘ first-string left guard since 2016, Thuney has yet to miss a game during his career. The Pats, however, may have located a gem in 2020 sixth-round pick Michael Onwenu. The Michigan product started 16 games and played more on the edge than at guard as a rookie. But it looks like the Pats will shift Onwenu to a full-time guard role, with ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss noting he lined up as their first-string left guard in OTAs. The Pats traded for Trent Brown and are expected to use him at right tackle, Onwenu’s primary 2020 position. Pro Football Focus graded Onwenu as a top-10 tackle last season.
  • Brown and Isaiah Wynn are set to be the Pats’ starting tackles, and Reiss adds Justin Herron looks like the top candidate to be their swing backup. Drafted 13 spots ahead of Onwenu in last year’s sixth round, Herron started six games and played 351 snaps as a rookie. PFF graded Herron 56th overall at tackle in 2020. Considering Wynn’s injury history, the Pats’ swing-tackle role is a pivotal gig.
  • Long snappers have a rigid salary structure. Entering last week, a seven-way tie existed for the league’s highest paid deep snapper. But the Bills appear to have broken said tie. Buffalo made Reid Ferguson the highest-paid snap specialist, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. Though it is not known how much more than the previous snapper-high figure ($1.2MM) the Bills are giving Ferguson, Pelissero adds that the fifth-year snapper will receive a $675K signing bonus.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/28/20

Here are Saturday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Promoted: QB Reid Sinnett

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Placed on IR: G Sua Opeta

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/31/20

Here is the league’s avalanche of Halloween minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/7/20

We’ll keep track of today’s late round signings here:

  • The Ravens inked third-round pick Tyre Phillips. With the Mississippi State offensive lineman under contract, the Ravens have now taken care of seven of their ten draft picks. Phillips played tackle in college, but he’ll likely move to the inside with Marshal Yanda retiring.
  • The Texans signed offensive tackle Charlie Heck, their fourth-round tackle.
  • The Patriots signed third-round linebacker Anfernee Jennings (Alabama), sixth-round guard Michael Onwenu (Michigan), and seventh-round center Dustin Woodard (Memphis), according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). Jennings wasn’t the most athletic rusher in this year’s class, but his hard-nosed playing style and technique made him a strong fit for Bill Belichick‘s defense. BB’s relationship with ‘Bama head coach Nick Saban likely helped to lead Jennings to New England. The Pats have also inked kicker Justin Rohrwasser, linebacker Cassh Maluia, and tackle Justin Herron (all of whom are Day 3 picks), leaving only three unsigned players in their ten-player draft class.
  • The Bills signed a trio of picks from the back of their draft, per a club announcement: sixth-round kicker Tyler Bass, sixth-round wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins, and seventh-round cornerback Dane Jackson. Hodgins, out of Oregon State, managed 86 receptions for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns in his final year on campus.
  • The Dolphins inked a pair of fifth-round edge rushers in Curtis Weaver (Boise State) and Jason Strowbridge (UNC), as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. The bulk of their 11-man draft class still remains unsigned, so there’s more work to be done.