With the NFL draft approaching, many suggested that the Patriots would look to add young depth to their offensive line group.

The addition of one particular lineman may signal the eventual release of an older, struggling veteran.

In the third round at pick No. 78, OL Joe Thuney was selected by the Patriots.

Thuney is a 6-foot-5-inch, 304 pound offensive lineman who played both sides of the line, played every line position in college. Before the draft, many pegged him as a potential NFL starter at guard. During his career at North Carolina State he was a three year starter. Thuney was also honored as second team All-ACC and was a first team All-American his senior season. He is not expected to be an immediate starter, but possesses an ability to bring valuable and immediate depth to the line.

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Thuney’s combine numbers were solid: he ran a 4.95 forty yard dash, executed twenty eight reps on the bench press, broad jumped one hundred and ten inches, and finished the twenty yard shuttle in 4.54.

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NFL scouts and analysts have Thuney pegged as an eventual starter at guard or depth player who can play tackle if need be. His frame isn’t ideal or as lengthy as most tackles in the league. However, he showed that his lack of frame didn’t hamper his production at tackle in college. His strengths athletically provide him the ability to counter his lack of size at the professional level.

Offensive line play appears to be an extremely easy thing to execute before one experiences the job themselves. With a playbook as challenging as New England’s, poor play and missed assignments are deadly for players who struggle.

Cannon’s disastrous 2015 campaign was the definition of “struggle.” Since the Patriots drafted  a bright young, versatile player like Joe Thuney, are Marcus Cannon’s days in Foxboro numbered?

When Cannon was originally drafted by the Patriots in 2011, one of the biggest concerns for in his game was pass protection. His scouting reports emphasized struggle to identify blocking assignments. He was also a liability picking up stunts and blitzes brought by defending fronts.

Five years later, those exact concerns were realized. Cannon would be one of the most disappointing players of 2015. When Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder fell due to injury, his number was called and he failed to pick up the slack. Brady’s pass protection became worse for the wear as the season continued. Due to Cannon’s struggles at tackle, the Patriots’ quarterback would end up on the ground, hit, or hurried far too often.

The primary reason that the Patriots failed to beat the Broncos in the AFC Championship game was not a lack of talent. Injuries did occur, but in professional football there is no excuse for failure. Belichick also deserves blame for not adequately supplying his line with enough talent and depth in case of injury. The Patriots couldn’t set a clean plate of protection on the edge of the pocket, and the walls closed in on any hopes of repeating of Super Bowl champions. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware had a field day at Mile High.

Cannon recently signed a surprisingly large contract extension for a player who had yet to excel in his career. He received a contract extension for two years which featured a base salary of $3.4 million in 2016. After last year’s terrible performance, it’s tough to believe that the twenty seven year old swing tackle’s game will pick up dramatically this season. The writing seems to be on the wall for Cannon.

If the Patriots cut Cannon now they will lose $1,066,668 million dollars. Belichick would save $3,087,500 million. If he makes his weigh in requirements on June 1st and July 15th, Cannon would earn $35,000 each time. If he is on the roster at 4PM on Saturday, September 10th, Cannon is guaranteed his base salary of $3,400,000.

But does Dante Scarnecchia want Cannon to remain as a Patriot? In 2013 Scarnecchia stated, “Love his physicality. Love his passion for the game. He’s a smart kid, a great kid to coach, he’s driven to be very good. I think he’s a really a good tackle.[…] He’s a special kid. He’s a starting-quality player”.

Times change and if Thuney comes in and thrives in his rookie camp, Cannon may very well be out of a job. Thuney is likely the answer to Cannon’s struggles with his athletic skillset and ability to play multiple offensive line positions. With his bloated contract and inadequate play, the Patriots could save cash by moving on from Cannon.

For the sake of Tom Brady’s health, Patriots fans should hope Thuney performs right from the beginning of his career. However, it will likely be up to the very important opinion of Scarnecchia whether or not Cannon remains in Foxborough.

If I had my way, Marcus Cannon would have walked out of Foxborough at the same time as Scott Chandler.