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MORSE: Trading Season, Pro Days and Morse’s Morsels

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
March 10, 2021 at 11:44 am ET

MORSE: Trading Season, Pro Days and Morse’s Morsels(PHOTO: David Butler II - USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Mar 10, 2021 11:44
🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

The Big news, no pun intended, is the Patriots re-acquiring OT Trent “Area Code” Brown from the Las Vegas Raiders.  This was a cap-saving move by the Raiders in unloading the under-performing Brown.   This a swap of 2022, Day 3 draft picks (5th for 7th and Brown).   Bill Belichick is famous for this type of low-risk / low-cost deal.  Also of significance is Brown re-negotiated his contract to lower his salary for shortening the term to one year.  This will allow him to become a Free Agent after the 2021 season.  His new salary and incentives could reach $11M.  To be fair to Brown, he suffered effects from COVID which affected him all season.

Marcus Cannon is likely to be cut.  The savings on Cannon’s contract will cover Brown’s new salary.  It should be noted that the Patriots have not indicated whether or not they will re-tag Joe Thuney.  I am assuming he will not be re-tagged and allowed to become a Free Agent.   The other Free Agent of note, David Andrews, is expected to re-sign with the Pats for around $7M per year for 3 years according to Miguel Benzan @PatsCap.

What an O-line that will be.  That also gives O-line coaches Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo a lot to work with.  Here is how I would employ the lineman.  Leave Isaiah Wynn at Left Tackle, move Michael Owenu to Left Guard, re-sign David Andrews, leave Shaq Mason at Right Guard and plug Brown at Right Tackle where he played for the 49’ers and Raiders.  I am still drafting two O-lineman that can play Left Guard and Center.  We have no backup center.

Does Brown have anything left?  He got the big Bucks in Free Agency from the Raiders and got fat and lazy.  He vastly underperformed the contract he signed.  An important point is that Dante Scarnecchia is no longer the Patriots O-line coach.  He was responsible for resurrecting Trent Brown and getting him that big contract.  Popovich was here and he and
Carmen Bricillo are disciples of Scarnecchia, so hopefully, they can bring Brown back to the dominating player he once was.

This is a brilliant 1st salvo in what should be an exciting off-season.  With Free Agency right around the corner and teams having to get back down to the salary cap, this is the first of what I expect will be many transactions.

Pro Days

The  1st Pro Day was held at Kansas and their top player RB Pooka Williams didn’t disappoint.  He ran a reported 4.38 40 at 5’8.5″, 175 lbs.  His 3-cone was 7.02 and his vertical jump was a disappointing 31.5″.  Someone with sprinter speed should do much better in the vertical.  That number would have been the 2 or 3rd worst at last year’s combine.  Remember these are unofficial numbers usually coming from the agent.

This week’s schedule of Pro-Days

Kansas State – March 9

Wisconsin – March 10

Arkansas – March 10

Clemson – March 11

Nevada – March 11

Oklahoma – March 12

North Dakota State – March 12

NFL Network is broadcasting from Trey Lance’s North Dakota State workout on Friday.

Morse’s Morsels

Franchise tags have been placed on S Justin Simmons (DEN), OT Taylor Moton (CAR), OG Brandon Scherff (WAS), WR Chris Godwin (TB), and WR Allen Robinson (CHI) greatly reducing the top talent available in the Free Agent pool.   This makes Joe Thuney the top available Offensive Guard available.  He should cash in with a huge contract and another 3rd round compensation pick next year for the Pats.  Los Angeles Chargers TE will not be franchised and is likely one of the Patriots top Free Agent targets.

Dak Prescot’s $160M contract is outrageous for a player coming back from a severely broken ankle.  In the 1st year, he receives a $66M signing bonus and a $9M salary for a whopping $75M guaranteed money.  His 2nd year (2022) is $22M and fully guaranteed.  His 3rd year has a clause that the team must decide by the 5th day of the new league year to lock in his 2023 salary at $31M.  He also has a provision that he can’t be franchised, which would make him a Free Agent again at age 31.

Cap Casualties

Here are some names of players cut for salary cap purposes.

DE Carlos Dunlap

DE Henry Anderson

TE Jared Cook

TE Josh Hill

WR Golden Tate

DT Jurell Casey

RB Duke Johnson

Signing any of these players would not affect the player compensation formula of Free Agency.  Of all those players Jurell Casey and Henry Anderson intrigue me.  Anderson is a tall 3-4 DE at 6’6″ 300 lbs and BB has sung the praises of Casey often.

From the HOA combine a few numbers have been reported (probably by agents).  Chazz Surratt, an ILB from North Carolina ran a 4.72 40.  Georgia CB Eric Stokes ran a 4.24 40, which will cause scouts to go back and look at his game tape.  Does he play that fast?  Tevin Jenkins OT Oklahoma St stands 6’6″ 315 lbs.  He ran a remarkable 5.04 40 and put up 34 reps at 225lbs.  One knock on him is that he is strictly a Right Tackle.

Deep Sleepers

RB Jermar Jefferson Oregon St measures at 5’9″ 217 lbs runs an estimated 4.56 40.  As a true freshman, he ran for 1380 yards and 12 TD.  In 2019 his numbers dropped as injuries limited him to 9 games and 658 yards and 8 TDs.  Can you name me any other draftable player from Oregon State?  He was the whole show.  In 2020 he ran for 858 yards and a 6.5 YPC, in just 6 games.  He also grabbed 43 passes during his time in Corvallis.

If you want a true blocking TE then Ohio State’s Luke Farrell is your man.  At 6’5″ 265 he could also play some OT, his blocking is that good!  He is serviceable as a receiver.

There has been a lot of talk about the rise of Iowa DT Daviyon Nixon who is expected to go in Day 2.  After the scouts looked at his tape closely, it was true that Nixon was making plays all over the field, but they also noticed his DT partner Jack Heflin.  Heflin stands 6’3″ 305 lbs and he was occupying double team blocks to free up Nixon.  Don’t be surprised if your see Heflin gets drafted.  At the least, he is a priority Undrafted Free Agent.  Heflin was a transfer from Northern Illinois where he was 2nd team All-MAC in 2019.

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.

Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Offseason
Tags: Dante Scarnecchia Joe Thuney Justin Simmons Las Vegas Raiders New England Patriots Trent Brown

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