Patriots Could Trade Starter to Clear Valuable Cap Space

Getty Isaiah Wynn

Would the New England Patriots parts ways with a starter to clear cap space?

The Patriots have a number of valuable players headed for free agency this offseason. J.C. Jackson is at the top of that list and many believe the Patriots will use the franchise tag to retain his services.

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According to projections for the price tag on franchise tagged cornerbacks, the Patriots are going to have to fork over more than $17 million to keep Jackson. New England also must decide what to do with players like Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower and others.

To put it plainly, the Patriots will need to create some financial flexibility with releases, restructuring deals, sliding over base salaries while converting pieces of the monies into signing bonuses and more.

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Bill Belichick and his staff could also elect to trade a player or two away for draft assets to clear some space while also adding draft capital. NESN’s Zack Cox wrote about the possibility of the Patriots trading away starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn.

“Offloading Wynn would be the cleanest way for New England to create a large chunk of cap space,” Cox wrote. “The 2018 first-round draft pick is set to earn a guaranteed $10.4 million salary next season on his fifth-year option, all of which would be removed from the Patriots’ books if he’s traded.”

That’s a pretty significant chunk of change for a player who hasn’t proven to be among the upper echelon of left tackles in the NFL, nor one worth a first-round pick.

“That’s a sizable jump from Wynn’s $2 million salary in 2021, but it’s not prohibitive for a starting left tackle. His 2022 cap hit currently ranks 16th among left tackles, per Over The Cap, and likely will rank lower after impending free agents sign new deals.”

To pay Wynn among the 16-best tackles in the NFL–while the team struggles to pay at other positions–seems problematic.

Is Wynn Expendable?

It’s tough to part ways with a starting left tackle, but Wynn has been solid at best since joining the Patriots. According to Pro Football Focus, Wynn was tied for 31st in overall grades for tackles in the NFL.

Based on that evaluation and Wynn’s projected salary, the Patriots would be foolish and out of character if they didn’t pursue a cheaper and potentially more efficient option.

What is Wynn’s Trade Value?

Wynn is still just 26 years old. He should have a decent number of years in the NFL ahead of him. There should be multiple suitors for Wynn, but it would be strange if the Patriots got anything more than a 5th round pick for him.

Wynn struggled with injuries in his first 2 seasons missing a combined 14 games. He missed just one in 2021, so things seem to be trending in the right direction in that regard. With players like Mike Onwenu and Ted Karras on the roster, the Patriots should have some versatility.

Also, the Patriots could look to the NFL Draft and free agency to find some lower-cost and potentially higher-performing options to take Wynn’s place as the protector of Mac Jones’ blind side.

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