Fourth in a series of positional "look-aheads" for the Patriots:
Stat check: The Patriots ranked seventh-best in sacks allowed per pass play in the regular season, as quarterback Tom Brady was sacked 25 times in 517 pass plays.
First instinct: The tackle spot was solid in 2010, with 10-year veteran Matt Light on the left side and Vollmer on the right. Both were 16-game starters, giving the Patriots stability and a high level of play.
Storyline not to be overlooked: Light’s future, as his contract expires and he will be a free agent when there is a new collective bargaining agreement. Both sides have expressed interest in extending his deal -- probably in the two- to three-year range -- when the time is right (likely after a new CBA is reached). If Light is not back, Vollmer probably flips to the left side and opens the right side for competition.
Future: Vollmer and Kaczur are both signed through 2012. With Kaczur coming off back surgery that sidelined him all of 2010 and scheduled to earn a base salary of $3.4 million in 2011, one wonders if management -- which has been high on him in the past -- will now view him as too expensive to keep on the books. Kaczur’s future could wind up being tied to Light’s, or a possible high draft choice. Elsewhere, the Patriots have felt comfortable with LeVoir (signed through 2011) when he’s been pressed into duty, and thought highly enough of Maneri (signed through 2012) to claim him on waivers from the Texans and keep him on the 53-man roster for three weeks in 2010. Free agent Quinn Ojinnaka could also return.
Final thought: One of the big questions entering 2010 was where Vollmer would play -- left tackle or right tackle. He was named a second-team Associated Press All-Pro on the right side. While he has shown the ability to swing, the return of Light on a two-to-three-year deal, and keeping Vollmer at right tackle, seems like the best 1-2 punch.
Your thoughts: What do you think the Patriots should do at offensive tackle this offseason? Re-sign Matt Light? Let Light walk and move Sebastian Vollmer to the left side? Draft an offensive tackle in the first round? Share your opinions in the comments section of this blog entry.