Patriots Urged to Sign Massive Lineman to Start Ahead of Promising Rookie

Getty Ereck Flowers

The New England Patriots drafted Cole Strange with their first-round pick in 2022, so the plan is for him to start at guard for the team sometime soon. In the event he isn’t ready for the job in 2022, the Patriots are being urged to ink a massive veteran lineman who could “bridge” the gap between the present and Strange.

Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report called out three current veteran free agents the Patriots should sign ahead of the upcoming season. The 28-year-old Ereck Flowers was one of them. After starting in all but one game last year for the Washington Football Team, the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Flowers is still without a team.

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“Flowers played at least 14 games in six of his seven NFL seasons with the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins and Washington,” Tansey wrote. “The durability and experience of the 28-year-old could be vital to the Patriots as they look to mold Cole Strange into a starter.”

There is a Ton of Pressure on Strange to Pan Out

When the Patriots drafted Strange, many experts, such as ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., called Bill Belichick and Co. out for what appeared to be a bit of a reach selection. Some teams have a second, third, or fourth-round grade on Strange, but New England took him 29th overall.

If Strange isn’t ready to contribute in 2022, considering the Patriots traded back losing the opportunity to draft Trent McDuffie, a cornerback they seemingly needed, there will be even more scrutiny.

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“Even if Strange starts, the Patriots could use Flowers to start over Michael Onwenu on the other side of center David Andrews,” Tansey continued. “New England might be content with its current offensive line group, but it would not hurt to have extra depth on the interior.”

Onwenu played a reserve role in 2022 behind veteran Ted Karras, which gave the Patriots great depth on the interior O-Line. However, after Onwenu’s stellar year as a rookie in 2020, his demotion was supposed to be short-term. If the promising 24-year-old is relegated to a reserve role again in 2022, that would leave some scratching their heads.

Flowers is a solid player, but of the three guys Tansey pointed out, there may be the least natural fit for him on the roster.

The Patriots Have a Greater Need For James Bradberry and Odell Beckham Jr.

Tansey also mentioned free-agent cornerback James Bradberry and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Coincidentally, all three players have ties to the New York Giants, which has current Patriots assistant and former G-Men head coach Joe Judge somewhat familiar with the trio.

Beckham has been connected to the Patriots on several occasions over the past few years. The former Pro-Bowler, who is still rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered in the Super Bowl, said he was close to signing with New England last season after the Cleveland Browns released him.

Beckham chose the Los Angeles Rams, which proved to be the right decision as he wound up winning a Super Bowl ring. It’s still possible Beckham could ink a prove-it deal with the Patriots considering New England has added some intriguing talent at the wide receiver position with DeVante Parker and rookie Tyquan Thornton.

Bradberry is perhaps the name that sticks out the most. He would fill arguably the team’s biggest need at corner. With the exit of J.C. Jackson, the Patriots don’t have much in the way of proven corners on their roster. If the season started today, Jonathon Jones, Malcolm Butler and Jalen Mills would get the majority of the reps with rookies Jack Jones and Marcus Jones getting opportunities to make a splash.

Bradberry would likely ascend to the CB1 role if New England signed him, but for now, it’s all just speculation. New England will likely make several roster moves between mid-May and the start of the 2022 NFL season. It’s possible one of the players Tansey mentioned could find their way to Foxborough.

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