Friday Bag: Trent Williams the answer for Patriots shaken up offensive line?

Friday Bag: Trent Williams the answer for Patriots shaken up offensive line?

The Friday Bag is back, friends. Every week I'll be answering your questions be they Patriots-related, NFL-related or otherwise. This week, the focus for many of you was -- no surprise -- the offensive line. We'll start there.

Thanks for touching base, Harry. I wrote about this a little bit about a month ago when it looked like Trent Williams might be moved by Washington. I think what prevented the Patriots from making a move for Williams then would still hold now. Even with Isaiah Wynn landing on injured reserve earlier this week.

The cost for Williams seems, at this point, to be prohibitive. He'll want a new contract. He has two years remaining on his deal and is scheduled to make $10.8 and $12.5 in base salary in 2019 and 2020. He has cap hits for both seasons that exceed $14 million. He could command a deal that exceeds $16.5 million annually. That's what Trent Brown got from the Raiders, making him the highest-paid tackle in the league.

Then you have to consider the compensation you'd have to give up in terms of draft picks. That might be going down by the day as the season wears on here, but the Seahawks got Duane Brown and a fifth from the Texans in return for a second and a third; the Eagles nabbed Jason Peters from the Bills for a first, a fourth and a sixth years ago. Laremy Tunsil was the centerpiece in a deal that sent him to Houston along with Kenny Stills and a couple of late picks in return for two first-rounders and a second-rounder.

All-Pro -- or even a tick below that level -- tackles are rarely traded. When they are, they cost an arm and a leg and a first round pick. That's probably a little rich for Bill Belichick.

I wouldn't worry about cap space, Matthew. The Patriots still have a variety of ways in which they can move things around. Extensions for Devin McCourty and Kyle Van Noy would be at the top of my list if I were the Patriots. The running game hasn't been as good, but once Shaq Mason gets his legs under him after a bumpy start, and once the team gets Marcus Cannon back -- which could be soon after he performed a pre-game workout Sunday in Miami -- then they should immediately look better.

The run game issues are issues. They simply aren't efficient in that aspect of their attack. But if the line gets a little more cohesive -- I'd expect to see Marshall Newhouse at left tackle with Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Mason and Cannon -- then they'll improve. It's important that they do because dropping Tom Brady back to pass 45 times every Sunday behind an offensive line with a new piece or two doesn't seem like a sound long-term plan.

Hey, CQ. The non-football injury list functions like the physically unable to perform list. Players on NFI all through camp and into the regular season have to sit for six weeks before they can return to action. Doing some digging to see where Cajuste stands and if he'll be available. We've seen him walking around the locker room from time to time without issue, but that's not a great indicator of how ready he'll be to block defensive ends in about a month's time.

No backup at the moment, Kyle. If anything, you might see more tight ends rolled out onto the field since the fullback and tight end responsibilities in the Patriots offense are similar. You've actually seen Develin play a little bit of in-line tight end this year since the depth there hasn't been great. It should be improving though.

Matt LaCosse, dealing with an ankle injury since Week 1 of preseason, is getting healthier and contributed as a receiver in Miami. Ryan Izzo would be more of the blocking tight end specialist. Would he work as a fullback like Develin? He could. I wouldn't expect to see it nearly as often as we do with Develin on the field. It's just not a deep spot that tight end/fullback group.

There was a time this summer when I thought the Patriots might keep Andrew Beck as a special-teamer and backup fullback because the fullback is so important to this offensive attack. (Beck was listed as a tight end but was more fullback than tight end in training camp.) They released him and he was picked up quickly by the Broncos. They have what they have at the moment. Matthew Slater was on the field in a tight end role at the goal line in Miami. That should tell you where their depth is.

Austria checking in! Appreciate you asking about the Next Pats Podcast. Had a great time doing that leading up to the draft. We haven't settled on what our draft coverage will look like in the spring, but we'll keep you posted. Kicking around ideas on how to get some mid-season draft content out there since I know people are hungry for it. 

Curran: $5M installment of Brown's signing bonus due Monday>>>

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NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

NFL conference championships see ratings drop without Patriots

Love 'em or hate 'em, the New England Patriots garner the attention of the masses.

That was evident during last year's AFC Championship game vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, when an average crowd of 53.9 million people tuned in to watch the Patriots win in an overtime thriller and advance to Super Bowl 53.

To put that into perspective, this year's late-window matchup between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers drew only 42.7 million viewers, per Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily.

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Of course, much of that discrepancy has to do with Pats-Chiefs being far more competitive than Packers-Niners. Plenty of viewers likely tuned out of the latter matchup when San Francisco led Green Bay 27-0 at halftime.

Even so, it just goes to show how much more attention is paid to the NFL playoffs when Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the rest of New England is involved. This year's AFC Championship featuring the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs marked the first without the Patriots since 2011, and it was the smallest audience (41.1 million) for an AFC title game in 11 years.

In comparison, the early game in 2019 (Los Angeles Rams vs. New Orleans Saints) averaged roughly 44 million.

The Chiefs and 49ers will meet in Miami for Super Bowl 54. It'll be interesting to see how those ratings compare to last year's Patriots-Rams matchup.

Perry: Examining the state of the offensive line

George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle celebrated Super Bowl berth with hilarious Jimmy Garoppolo shirt

George Kittle had a little fun with his quarterback after the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers in Sunday night's NFC Championship Game to clinch a berth in Super Bowl LIV.

The All-Pro tight end showed up to his postgame press conference with a custom t-shirt that included a shirtless photo and autograph of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

Check it out in the tweet below:

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Garoppolo was asked by reporters about Kittle's shirt, and he couldn't hold back his laughter.

“I got him earlier in the week with a shirt, showed it to the media and everything, so he had to get me back a little bit," a smiling Garoppolo said, per 95.7 The Game. "I thought it was a nice shirt he had on. Maybe we’ll get them in the team store soon.”

Garoppolo is no stranger to the Super Bowl. He made two Super Bowl appearances with the New England Patriots as Tom Brady's backup, and in two weeks he'll make his first start on that stage.

The 49ers quarterback hasn't had to play at an elite level for his team to reach the Super Bowl, but that should change in Miami on Feb. 2. The AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs have an offense that looks unstoppable right now, so Garoppolo likely will need to play one of his best games as a pro to give San Francisco a strong chance to win its sixth Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.

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