The Patriots are bringing back tackle LaAdrian Waddle for a one-year deal. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network first reported the news via Twitter on Thursday.
After playing the better part of his first three seasons in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, the 26-year-old Waddle was claimed off waivers by the Patriots late in he 2015 season amid attrition on the New England offensive line. He's stuck with the team since, most recently playing in 12 games in 2017.
Waddle played 334 offensive snaps at right tackle as he filled in for the injured Marcus Cannon, by far the highest total of his Patriots tenure. He played admirably when presented with the opportunity, most impressively playing 100 percent of offensive snaps in the Pats' 41-16 win over the Denver Broncos.
Cameron Fleming took over at right tackle for most of the time after Week 12, but Waddle did earn the start and split snaps with Fleming in the AFC Divisional Playoff against the Tennessee Titans. Clearly, Bill Belichick saw enough in Waddle's fill-in time to keep him around for at least one more year.
Given the Patriots' massive question mark at the left tackle position, Waddle will presumably be in the mix for that role. That is, if the plan isn't to move Marcus Cannon from right tackle. That wouldn't be ideal, either, but the Patriots likely have to make legit sacrifices next season in order to protect Tom Brady's blind side. And if they do decide to try Cannon on the left side, they at least know what Waddle can give them on the right.
But ideally, the Patriots find a way to add more talent at tackle (perhaps int he draft) and Waddle goes back to a reserve role.
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].
-- Stats via Pro Football Reference