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The Patriots Reportedly Plan to Go After Tyron Smith in Free Agency, and I'm Here for It

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Every man, woman and child who cares about the Patriots finds ourselves in the uncomfortable position of not having the first clue how the Eliot Wolf/Jerod Mayo administration plans on conducting business. We've gotten the news Kyle Dugger is getting the transition tag, which is a positive first step. But everything else is just speculation.  We're Medieval monks debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and nothing more. There are no educated guesses, only guesses.

But what we do have are rumors, unconfirmed reports, and crap people were supposedly talking about at the Combine. And that'll have to do until we get something concrete starting in a few days when the free agency tampering period begins. All we know for sure is they're wandering in a talent desert, with a canyon-sized ditch to fill on the offensive side of the ball. No QB1 to speak of. Paper thin at wide receiver. A little less thin on the interior of the O-line, with Cole Strange expected to miss the start of the season, leaving two second year guards on either side of David Andrews. Both tight ends are hitting free agency. Most importantly, so are both tackles. But they've also got $100 million and, if Mayo is to be taken literally, they plan to burn some of that cash. (Note: He later said that's not to be taken literally or figuratively.) 

Which brings me to this bit of rumor-mongering:

MassLive - The Patriots would like to find a starting-caliber tackle in free agency. One name to watch is Tyron Smith, who earned second team All-Pro honors with the Cowboys last season. The 33-year-old would provide a short-term solution at left tackle and the Patriots are expected to pursue Smith when free agency opens.

This isn’t a deep tackle class in free agency. The next best option would be Cincinnati’s Jonah Williams. The Patriots will also be heavily interested in drafting a tackle, and new offensive line coach Scott Peters arrived in Indianapolis on Wednesday night to scout prospects.

My name is Old Balls, and I approve this message. 

If anyone is coughing up blood at the thought of using a ton of precious cap money to persuade a 33 year old tackle to come here and provide protection, I have bandages for you. Generally speaking, it's not a long term solution to a problem to spend big money on a guy who was an All-Decade player in the previous decade. Not in a season that will end in a "5" anyway. 

But Smith is a special case. As are the Patriots. 

First him. Not only was Smith second-team All Pro this past season, he got Pro Football Focus' 2nd highest pass blocking grade among all tackles. His overall grade was 4th highest. In 610 pass protection snaps, he gave up 21 total pressures, including three sacks. That's an Efficiency rating of 97.9, which was 4th best. And in 949 total snaps, he committed just three penalties. Yes, he'll be expensive. The best in his free agency class at every position tends to be. And a thin class leads to scarcity which drives the cost up further. It's a basic Adam Smith principle

But when it comes to adding tackles this spring, failure is not an option. Not when you've got such an obvious need, $100 million to spend, and the most cap room in the league in 2025. Not to mention in all likelihood, you'll be developing a rookie quarterback. Either from the beginning of the season or at some point during. Last year they shopped in the clearance aisle at tackle, and the result was a holocaust of wrong. And directly contributed to having the worst offense in the league. It can't be repeated. 

Moreover, signing Smith gives the Pats breathing room in the draft. This way they can afford to take whichever quarterback is available at 3 between Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels. Then add a receiver with the 34th pick. Hopefully Ladd McConkey, Adoni Mitchell or Troy Franklin. Given that there's a dropoff at tackle after the first seven or eight that are considered 1st round-worthy, you can wait until the middle rounds to address the position and develop someone behind Smith. Granted it was a different regime and Dante Scarnecchia was usually involved, but as a franchise the Pats have always been good at finding and developing offensive line gems in those later rounds, from Michael Onwenu (whom they also need to re-sign) to Marcus Cannon, Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney, to name a few. 

If nothing else, adding an eight time Pro Bowler to address an obvious need will go a billion miles toward winning the confidence of a fan base that is uncertain of our future except how sick we are of losing. Give us some wins in March, and the fall will take care of itself.