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. 

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Scarnecchia: Marshall Newhouse will play left tackle vs. Jets; Joe Thuney sticking at guard

Scarnecchia: Marshall Newhouse will play left tackle vs. Jets; Joe Thuney sticking at guard

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick isn't one to give away game plans, but Dante Scarnecchia doesn't have the same kind of filter in his meetings with reporters.

During a lengthy back-and-forth with reporters, Scarnecchia said that the plan was for the Patriots to start Marshall Newhouse at left tackle with Isaiah Wynn currently on injured reserve. Joe Thuney will remain at left guard.

Scarnecchia has said many times in the past, and he reiterated it during Friday's interaction with reporters, that less shakeup on the line is preferred. That means if you can get away with a one-for-one substitution -- Newhouse for Wynn, in this case -- that would be better than moving a guard and then finding a new guard as a replacement.

Newhouse has been in the league since he was a fifth-round pick of the Packers in 2010. His experience level and football IQ allows him to pick up the system more quickly than most, according to teammates.

And Bill Belichick noted recently that Newhouse's ability to pick up the system -- he played both right and left tackle last week in Miami -- might be thanks in part to his experience with the Bills, where offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is a former Patriots assistant. (Newhouse spent part of last season with Buffalo.)

"Although," Belichick said earlier this week, "he's only been here for a few days, he came from the Buffalo system where Daboll is, and I think a lot of the terminology, although maybe not exactly the same, is close and some of the same concepts, maybe different words or a different way that it's called. But the concepts and a lot of things that they do and we do are obviously the same, based on the background and carryover from Brian's system, and to what we do. So in terms of learning and all that, Marshall has a lot of league experience and experience recently in a similar system to what we run."

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Tom Brady (calf) looks good to go after popping up on Patriots injury report

Tom Brady (calf) looks good to go after popping up on Patriots injury report

FOXBORO — Because it’s Tom Brady, any time his name shows up on the injury report it’s worth taking notice. But from what reporters saw at Thursday's Patriots practice, it appears as though there’s not much to worry about when it comes to Brady’s latest ailment. 

Brady was listed as a limited participant during Wednesday’s practice due to a calf injury, but he seemed to be moving without issue at the start of Thursday’s workout. 

Going through the team’s usual stretching routine, Brady moved without a noticeable limp. He also took part in the high-knee portion of the warmup by aggressively churning his legs, not favoring one or the other. Brady jogged at a good pace during the warmup and after the warmup while heading toward one end of the practice field for the next practice period. That was when media availability at the session ended. 

Brady's lower-body health is critical to the success of the Patriots offense. He’s not a threat to run for significant yardage, but his mobility inside the pocket allows the Patriots to avoid negative plays and create scramble-drill opportunities that can lead to big gains. Against the Jets and their blitz-happy coordinator Gregg Williams, it’ll be important for Brady to be able to climb the picket to escape edge pressure or side-step pressure coming from the interior of the Patriots offensive line. 

As the Patriots deal with shuffled personnel on the offensive line — Isaiah Wynn is on injured reserve and Marcus Cannon is dealing with a shoulder injury — Brady may be forced to get himself out of trouble more than he might if he had his full starting offensive line to play behind. 

What reporters saw from Brady on Thursday was brief. But it was encouraging for the Patriots that after being limited 24 hours earlier, the 42-year-old quarterback looked like himself. (The Patriots will release an injury report later on Thursday. Brady would be considered limited again if he took anything less than what’s typically considered a full workload for him.)

The Patriots were without fullback James Develin and outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun at the start of practice. Both missed Wednesday’s workout. Develin is dealing with a neck issue while Calhoun had a non-injury related issue that held him out of the team’s first practice this week. 

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