Cannon feels 'blessed' to receive five-year deal from Patriots

Cannon feels 'blessed' to receive five-year deal from Patriots

FOXBORO -- Marcus Cannon knows that the work can't stop now. 

Even though he's finally locked down a starting role, even though he's having the best season of his six-year career, even though he recently signed a five-year deal for $32.5 million and $14.5 guaranteed, he understands that what earned him that pay raise was his drive to improve. In going back and forth with reporters on Wednesday, the day after news broke of his extension, he vowed to keep that drive in gear. 

"You know, that doesn’t validate anything," Cannon said. "I have to still come out here and do things better. There’s still things I need to work on that I’m not as good at. I’m very thankful to the opportunity that they’ve given me and I’m very blessed."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick told members of the media on Wednesday that he was glad the Patriots were able to extend their working relationship with Cannon. Since shedding weight this offseason and reuniting with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, Cannon has earned the full-time job at right tackle and performed as arguably the team's most consistent lineman this season.

"I just changed some stuff here and there," Cannon said. "We’ve got a great strength and conditioning coach, Moses [Cabrera]. He helped a lot. Just putting people in my corner to help me do the best I can."

After serving as a swing tackle -- and a few ill-fated attempts at playing guard -- Cannon has taken over as an anchor on the right side of the offensive line for Sebastian Vollmer, who is on season-ending injured reserve with a hip injury and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. 

With Nate Solder healthy under contract through 2017, the Patriots appear to have their tackle position set for the near future thanks in part to Cannon's emergence this season. Given the talent the Patriots have had on the edges since Cannon's arrival, it took a few years for him to long-term commitment he's received, but all along he never pictured himself playing anywhere else.

"It was my ultimate goal to play here forever," he said. "We'll see."

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

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Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."