Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFL Nation [Print without images]

Sunday, March 24, 2013
Patriots keep O-line intact with Vollmer

By James Walker


The New England Patriots lost two starting wide receivers in free agency. But the Patriots were not about to let quarterback Tom Brady also lose his protection on the offensive line.

Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com reports New England has reached an agreement with free-agent right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. This is a wise move to keep the Patriots' stout offensive line intact, especially with Brady (35) getting up there in age.

Vollmer was a key cog to New England's success passing and running the football. The Patriots led the NFL in total offense in 2012. Brady threw for 4,827 yards and tailback Stevan Ridley rushed for a career-best 1,263 yards. Vollmer played a key role in both players' successful season.

Vollmer is very tough and played well through injuries last season. He started 15 games in the regular season and two additional games in the playoffs. He joins former first-round pick Nate Solder as a solid and versatile offensive-tackle combination for New England.

The Patriots were smart to act quickly this weekend. The offensive tackle market opened up after former Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long recently signed with the St. Louis Rams. Interest had picked up with other offensive tackles such as Vollmer, Eric Winston and Andre Smith.

The Patriots made sure they kept their guy in Vollmer. After the high-profile Wes Welker debacle, this is one free-agent move on offense that should make Brady smile a little.