By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots plan to sign veteran former Broncos tackle Jared Veldheer to a one-year deal worth up to $6.5 million. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport first tweeted the agreement, with Tom Pelissero adding the numbers.
Key to the deal is that it will be agreed upon after May 7, the final day for NFL free agents to count against teams’ compensatory draft pick formulas. The Patriots have helped themselves in that department in recent years. Bill Belichick has exploited the league’s secret sauce by mostly avoiding the early stages of free agency and making pick-swap trades, reaping a fat harvest of compensatory picks after losing a number of valuable free agents to other teams.
The Pats gained four compensatory selections in 2019, and ended up with two after making seven trades during the draft. This year’s Patriots draft picks from the compensatory pool include West Virginia tackle Yodny Cajuste and Ole Miss cornerback Ken Webster.
What are the Patriots getting with Veldheer?
Veldheer, 31, comes to New England having started 113 of 118 career games for the Raiders, Cardinals, and Broncos. He started 12 games at right tackle for Denver in 2018, playing 100 percent of snaps in nine of them.
The veteran has started every game he’s played in since his rookie year in 2010. Veldheer played left tackle with both the Raiders and Cardinals before joining the Broncos.
Veldheer’s experience, versatility, and contract virtually assures him of a roster spot for the 2019 Patriots. At the very least he’ll play a swing tackle role. The signing may have all but locked up the tackles, with sophomore lineman Isaiah Wynn, veteran right tackle Marcus Cannon, and 2019 fourth-round pick Yodny Cajuste also likely to make the roster. The question is what role each of them will assume.
Tackle battle brewing
Standing at 6-foot-8, Veldheer brings the kind of size that the Patriots have liked at left tackle since parking Nate Solder on Tom Brady’s blind side. Dante Scarnecchia’s success with big left tackles like Solder and Trent Brown bodes well for Veldheer, regardless of his ultimate role. He could certainly be insurance in case Wynn isn’t ready for a starting role at left tackle.
The Patriots also have Cole Croston, Cedrick Lang, and undrafted rookie Tyree St. Louis on the roster at tackle. Veldheer’s signing doesn’t necessarily bode well for them. Uncertainty permeates the tackle position entering the Patriots’ offseason workouts, but the team won’t be short on candidates and competition.
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@example.com.