Free Agent primer: Interior offensive line

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Free Agent primer: Interior offensive line

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

This is the fourth in a series of looks at the Patriots' position-by-position needs after the draft, and who's available to fill them via free agency . . . whenever free agency might come. Today's position: Offensive guardcenter.
Who's here?
Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Nick Kaczur, Dan Koppen, Ryan Wendell, Rich Ohrnberger, Thomas Austin, Marcus Cannon.Who's out there?
Robert Gallery (G - Raiders), Rudy Niswanger (C - Chiefs), Scott Mruczkowski (C - Chargers), Davin Joseph (G - Buccaneers), David Baas (GC - 49ers)What's the need?
From 1-10? Let's call it a6. Stephen Neal has retired, which leaves your presumptive starters across the front as Mankins, Koppen and Connolly. Mankins may be agitated with how he's being treated, but it's hard to fathom him forfeiting 10 million to play left guard for the Patriots in 2011, which he'll get as their franchise player (presuming the CBA gets worked out, blah, blah, blah). Not after receiving about 800,000 in salary as opposed to the 3 million he would have gotten if he'd signed his RFA tender and played the whole season. But plans need to be made for his exit after 2011. Koppen will be 32 in September. He is not dominant but he's the interior QB of a line that is exceedingly smart and efficient. The Patriots will miss him a lot when he's gone and that day is coming. His backup is Ryan Wendell, 25, a versatile player who has been capable in fill-in duty at guard and spot duty at center. Connolly is a pretty effective right guard and has the versatility to play the other side as well, as he showed during Mankins' holdout. Ohrnberger has done little to emerge in an area that's had opportunities for players to step up. Kaczur is in the mix as guard depth. Cannon, drafred in the fifth round and currently battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma, figures to be out of the mix in 2011. His potential, after he hopefully conquers his health problem, is very high. Who do they chase?
Baas seems a smart choice because he has that guard-center versatility. Meanwhile, I've been hearing the team remains enamored with one-time can't-miss prospect Robert Gallery, who is now 32 and has been plagued by injuries in Oakland. Who do we look at next?
Defensive endsTom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."

Report: Patriots asked Seahawks about a trade for Richard Sherman

Report: Patriots asked Seahawks about a trade for Richard Sherman

PHOENIX -- The Patriots pulled off what many considered a surprise free-agent signing when they acquired corner Stephon Gilmore. As it turns out, before they picked up the former Bills cover man, they inquried about a separate move that would have been even more eye-opening. 

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, ahead of coming to a deal with Gilmore, the Patriots were among the teams that spoke to the Seahawks about a potential trade for Richard Sherman.

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During the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday morning at the Arizona Biltmore, Seattle coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that multiple teams have contacted the Seahawks about Sherman. But, Carroll said, "I don't see anything happening at all."

Sherman, who turns 29 next season, will make $11.431 million for 2017. He's due $11 million in the final year of his contract in 2018.