New England Patriots

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Marcus Cannon #61 of the New England Patriots reacts after defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime during Super Bowl 51 at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots are trading veteran offensive tackle Marcus Cannon to the Houston Texans, as first reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

According to Jim McBride of the Boston Globe, the Patriots and Texans are swapping draft picks in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds as part of the Cannon trade. The trade marks the first deal between Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and new Texans GM Nick Caserio.

The Patriots originally drafted Cannon with the 138th pick in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Cannon went on to play 115 games (69 starts) in nine seasons for New England, entrenching himself as the starting right tackle from 2016-19. He opted out of the 2020 season due to health concerns relating to COVID-19, but is reportedly preparing to play in 2021.

Cannon’s peak came in 2016, when he started 15 games at right tackle for the Pats and earned second-team All Pro honors from the Associated Press. He also made the second team on the Pro Football Focus All-Pro squad, and played all 99 offensive snaps for the Patriots offense in Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons.

In total, Cannon played in 19 playoff games for the Patriots with nine starts.

The move frees up just under $6.3 million on the salary cap (h/t Miguel Benzan) and $7 million cash due to him in 2021. New England enters the 2021 league year with among the most cap space in the NFL at roughly $60 million.

Cannon wasn’t the only player whose future was up in the air on the Patriots’ offensive line. Guard Joe Thuney and center David Andrews appear headed to unrestricted free agency, while they now have an increased need for a long-term answer at tackle. Scroll down for more on the Patriots’ own internal free agents.

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