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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Offensive line by contract length

By Mike Reiss

With the Patriots picking up the fifth-year option on left tackle Nate Solder's contract, which was expected, let's take a look at the team's offensive line through the lens of when each top player's contract expires:

Left tackle
Solder (2015)

Left guard
Logan Mankins (2016)
Josh Kline (2015)

Center
Ryan Wendell (2015)

Right guard
Dan Connolly (2014)
Chris Barker (2015)

Right tackle
Sebastian Vollmer (2016)
Marcus Cannon (2014)

Others on the roster who could emerge from a developmental perspective include center Braxston Cave (2015), tackle Jordan Devey (2015), tackle/guard R.J. Mattes (2015).

QUICK-HIT THOUGHTS: In the short term, the Patriots could line up today with a competitive line and feel good about the players assembled as the top blockers from 2013 all return. There are longer-range considerations to keep on the radar from a draft perspective, as Cannon -- the top backup and a player who would probably start for many teams -- could be difficult to retain as a free agent next offseason. Connolly is also in the last year of his contract and scheduled to count $4 million on the salary cap, while Wendell's contract doesn't necessarily lock him in as the long-term starter at center. So it wouldn't be surprising if the team targets an offensive lineman in the draft, with the stronger likelihood on the interior, to increase competition and also plan for the future.