One of the weak points for the Patriots in training camp has been the blocking ability of their offensive line in their new offensive scheme.
The Carolina game had some positive developments, but there’s still work to be done. Within all this, Isaiah Wynn’s trade rumors are a shocking development to an already shaky group.
This offseason, the Patriots have already traded one of their best offensive linemen in Shaq Mason, and with the pick of Cole Strange, they will likely have a rookie in their starting line. In addition, recently converted right tackle Isaiah Wynn hasn’t played to potential yet as a Patriot. Still, as he shows improvement and is a good fit with the right tackle, he has looked to be a vital component of the Patriots’ offense.
Given this, the recent rumors of trade talks about Wynn come as quite a surprise, so I will step back and look at Wynn’s role on the team and the implications for the Patriots of potentially trading him.
What Does Wynn Contribute To The Patriots?
While Isaiah Wynn isn’t the biggest guy at 6’2″ and 313 lbs, which is around average for an offensive lineman, he is an absolute menace in terms of physicality. He is a big hitter and is extremely good at holding his ground and advancing. At Georgia as a left tackle, his solid protection of Jake Fromm helped facilitate a run to the 2018 National Championship Game in an All-American season. In addition, his college tape was incredibly impressive, with multiple instances of him advancing against even potent defenses.
As a Patriot left tackle, he has shown shades of these abilities. Despite some injury issues (an ACL tear took his entire rookie season), he could stay on the field for most of the 2021 season. He allowed six sacks and five quarterback hits during the season but was otherwise solid. He’s shown the ability to take on defenders at, behind, and ahead of the line of scrimmage and block players of varying sizes and skillsets, which is a valuable skill set for not just left tackles but any offensive lineman. Furthermore, he doesn’t give up on blocks when getting pushed back.
There have been times, however, when he did have occasional breakdowns in his blocking, and it has taken some time for him to acclimate to NFL speed. In addition, penalties have been a problem for him, and he was flagged nine times last year, which for a Belichick-coached team is a significant amount. Given that he is being paid over ten million dollars a year, it is true that the Patriots are expecting a more substantial product from Wynn than he has produced so far, even though he has shown flashes of immense potential. He is, regardless, a vital piece of the offensive line.
Should The Patriots Trade Wynn + What Is The Backup Plan?
With a lot of flux in the offensive line, from Strange’s draft pick, Shaq Mason’s trade, and Trent Brown’s affinity to left tackle, Wynn is being switched to the right this season while still being paid like a left tackle. The expectations are therefore high, but in training camp, Wynn has been one of the aspects of the otherwise struggling offensive line that has held relatively solid. His skills have transferred decently to right tackle, although we haven’t seen him in a preseason game yet.
While Wynn hasn’t played like a ten-million-dollar player, he’s showing a good trajectory and finally had a fully healthy season last year. Only an outstanding offer warrants consideration for him when the offensive line has been an area of weakness in the offseason.
If Wynn is traded, the likely replacement would be Yodney Cajuste, who has replaced him in the two preseason games. In camp, Cajuste has been serviceable, held firm, and even won matchups against players like Christian Barmore. In his NFL career, his ability to create holes, prevent mistakes, and hold steady has improved over time, and so far in the first two preseason games, not many have gone by him. While his ceiling certainly seems lower than that of Wynn, he would be a decent replacement should Wynn get traded.
Beyond Cajuste is where the issue lies. However, should there be injuries, Justin Herron and James Ferentz, two of the most experienced of the linemen on the bench, have struggled in camp and preseason, both in terms of penalties and generally being porous. Arlington Hambright has shown quite a bit of promise this offseason but is relatively inexperienced and that inexperience could show up in games should he be called on. Losing Wynn would expose this lack of depth in the offensive line.
Which Teams Should/Shouldn’t The Patriots Entertain A Transaction?
Given Wynn’s importance to the Patriots this year, the Patriots would want to trade to a team that can provide them something of requisite value or more. An excellent example of this is the Bears. Suppose Wynn could be the center of a deal that lands the Patriots LB Roquan Smith, who is requesting a trade and whose speed, athleticism, and physicality would significantly bolster a Patriots defense that struggled down the stretch last year. This potential trade involving former UGA teammates from 2018 would be mutually beneficial. The Bears need much more protection than they have for their second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
Trades like this are helpful to the Patriots because it wouldn’t affect their playoff chances. Unfortunately, on the opposite wing, the worst team to trade with would probably be the Raiders. Very likely, the Raiders will be competing with the Patriots for a wild card spot, and putting the talented Wynn in the hands of his former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would be a poor move regardless of the stakes of the trade.
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