Patriots Re-Sign $2.47 Million Veteran at Needed Position


Getty The Patriots added offensive tackle depth on Wednesday.

The New England Patriots need help at tackle going into 2023, and the recent re-signing of veteran tackle Yodny Cajuste could help.

New England signed him to a restricted free agent tender contract on Wednesday according to the NFL transaction wire. Cajuste has a one-year deal of $2.743 million that isn’t guaranteed under the tender.

NESN’s Zack Cox explained that helps the Patriots improve tackle depth and keep an option open for a roster spot if Cajuste doesn’t make the team or a more-skilled tackle comes along before training camp. Cox noted that Cajuste “still projects as a roster  long shot” amid 17 career games and five starts in two seasons with the Patriots.

“Cajuste rejoins a position group that underwent a noticeable makeover during NFL free agency and could change more depending on how the Patriots approach the 2023 NFL Draft,” Cox wrote. “Trent Brown, Conor McDermott and redshirted 2022 seventh-round pick Andrew Stueber are back from last season, but New England added veterans Riley Reiff and Calvin Anderson, who signed one- and two-year deals, respectively, last month.”

“Reiff and Brown currently project as the starters, though with both having experience at right and left tackle, it’s unclear which side each will play,” Cox added. “The terms of Anderson’s contract should lock him into a roster spot, with him and McDermott competing for the top backup job.”

Injuries Limited Cajuste’s Career With the Patriots So Far

New England drafted Cajuste out of West Virginia with a third-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he didn’t see the field until 2021.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound lineman didn’t play as a rookie due to quad surgery, and he landed on injured reserve in September 2020 due to a knee injury. He earned a backup role in 2021 and made two starts amid 81 offensive snaps in seven games played.

New England also utilized him on special teams with 24 snaps in 2021 followed by another 31 in 2022. Cajuste played in 10 games with 197 offensive snaps overall, and he made three starts.

Injury interrupted his season for a third time in four years as he went on injured reserve due to a thumb injury.

Cajuste Faces Stiff Competition Among Tackles

Cajuste couldn’t get a start in the final six games of 2022 as McDermott became the starter in that span.

For Cajuste to have any shot at starting again or stay on the roster for the season, he will need to beat out McDermott and Anderson. The Patriots gave McDermott a two-year, $3.6 million extension in February, and Anderson has a two-year, $7 million deal. McDermott has 12 career starts in 49 games played, and Anderson also has 12 career starts in 41 games played.

Stueber, though a “wild card” as Cox put it, could also stand in Cajuste’s way of becoming a regular on the Patriots’ offensive line. The Patriots selected Stueber out of Michigan in the seven-round of the 2022 draft. A 6-foot-6, 325-pound lineman, Steuber impressed with the Wolverines as a second-team All-American.

Cajuste’s chances to compete for a roster spot could open up a little if the Patriots part ways with Brown for salary cap purposes — a situation “worth monitoring” according to Cox. Brown has a two-year, $13 million contract, and the Patriots could save $8 million with a release or $11 million with a trade, Cox noted.

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