Patriots OT Options for 2011

Matt Light Patriots

What does the future hold for Matt Light and the Patriots?

NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed

After drafting Nate Solder with their first pick of the 2011 draft, the Patriots have put themselves in an interesting situation regarding the bookends of their offensive line this season. Matt Light being a free agent further complicates that situation.

Had Light been signed an extra year, the decision would have been simple, continue to start Light at LT and groom either Sebastian Vollmer or Solder as the future protector of Tom Brady’s blindside. As it stands, I think the Patriots have six options.

1). Sign Matt Light to a one or two year deal.

If this was an option, I’m sure the Patriots would jump at it. As said above, it would allow the Patriots to give Solder a year or two under Light and Dante Scarnecchia to learn the ropes. Obviously the issue with this situation is that there’s basically nothing in it for Light. Other teams will no doubt offer him longer term contracts.

2). Sign Matt Light to a long term deal.

This is one of my favorite scenarios but only if it means Light would be able to move over to guard. It gives the Patriots the opportunity to hold off Solder as many years as it takes, and it gives them insurance if Mankins leaves or if there is a need down the line at guard. The issue with this scenario is whether Light could be the mauler that the Patriots need at guard.

3). Let Light walk, move Vollmer to LT, start Solder immediately at RT.

I’m unsure if Solder could step in and immediately start along the offensive line. The lockout makes this a difficult situation since Solder wasn’t able to go through rookie camp and show the team what he can do and he hasn’t been able to immediately work with Scarnecchia. The other problem here is, do the Patriots then keep Vollmer as the future LT, or move him back to RT once Solder is ready to play LT?

4). Let Light walk, move Vollmer to LT, start Kaczur at RT.

If Light walks, this might be the most logical conclusion to come to. Unfortunatley, I also think this weakens our offensive line in an important season for New England. Kaszur is a solid offensive lineman, but he’s got major injury concerns and he’s not better than an aging Matt Light.

5). Let Light walk, start Solder at LT.

This would be a major leap of faith for the Patriots. Fortunately, the Patriots aren’t the Seahawks, 49ers or Redskins and don’t have the luxury of starting a rookie immediately at such an important position.

6). Sign a free agent to fill in at RT,

With Kaczur under contract, I think this is a less likely scenario, but there are familiar names out there like Damien Woody and Ryan O’Callaghan who would perhaps be more willing to sign short term than Light would be.

Personally, I love situation no. 2. I’m not sure what kind of money Light will be able to demand this off season as I think most teams would not think of him as a long term LT possibility. What do you think is the best scenario? Can you think of other offensive line scenarios that could work out?

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4 Responses to “Patriots OT Options for 2011”

  1. BAMNATION says:

    Light started as a rook, Mankins and Koppen as well.

    IF there was a full offseason there is no doubt Solder would be ready.

    you can dump Kaczur and resign Light for 2 years or in the worst case let both of them go and pick up a RT in FA

    funny the line went from one of the the best in 2010 (Madden Award) to now being total suspect

    • TD says:

      Such is life in the NFL, teams are always trying to bolster backups at all positions, but sometimes need to retool complete areas all at once. We are lucky to have most of the OL in place, except for Mankins & LT.

      We could get extremely lucky and Solder and Cannon are ready to go and minimizes the loss of Light & Mankins, but there are existing backups in place: LeVoir, Maneri, Wendell & Ornberger.

  2. Ryan says:

    I will start of by saying that I believe teams as well as ESPN and the alike did wonderful job of making Solder look like a in experienced player. I furthermore thought it was funny how when he was picked by the Patriots how all the announcers stated a few teams wanted him real bad, including the Colts and etc. To be honest, I’m not sure if he is ready or not, but the media sure did a good job of down playing his ability until after he was drafted. Talk about a kid who played well during the season but then after the Senior Bowl he was looked at is garbage. But don’t be surprised if he does start. I will generally speculate about all positions BUT OL, just doesn’t do any good. Our OL coach knows what he wants and is darn good at getting it. I just have feeling that Solder will start this season, ready or not here he comes.

    • NEPD says:

      People saw a large disconnect between his talent and production against elite competition, which wasn’t entirely untrue. That said, it was blown a bit out of proportion.

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