FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Had New England Patriots offensive tackle Marcus Cannon signed elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent after the 2016 season, he still would have authored one of the great comeback stories in team history. Having slipped to the fifth round of the 2011 draft in part because of a non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis, he was an inspiration to many for overcoming that and working his way into a contributing role on the team after the Patriots selected him in the fifth round.
Now Tuesday's news that he has agreed to a five-year contract extension with the club adds another layer to his feel-good story.
The deal could be worth as much as $32.5 million, with $14.5 guaranteed, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network. It has $19.8 million in cash in the first three years.
Cannon is having the best season of his NFL career, as his reunion with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia -- one of his champions from the early days of his career -- has helped. So, too, has the decision to keep Cannon solely at right tackle instead of flipping him to the left side or even to guard as the club has done in past years.
Cannon is a mauling blocker in the running game, and Scarnecchia touched on how a change in style of play has helped him improve in pass protection this year.
But even before that, the Patriots valued Cannon as a starting-caliber player, as evidenced by the two-year, $9 million extension the sides had reached two years ago when Cannon was set to become a free agent for the first time in his career. The sides struck that deal even though the Patriots had two starters already in place, Nate Solder (left tackle) and Sebastian Vollmer (right tackle).
With Cannon landing this larger contract, it pretty much passes the torch from Vollmer to Cannon. Vollmer, one of the class acts to come through the Patriots' locker room in recent years, missed all of this season with a hip injury and is an unrestricted free agent after the season.