The New England Patriots Robert Gallery retired today before every playing a down for his new team. It is currently unknown why the eight-year veteran has retired at only 32 years of age, but it clearly adds to the Patriots' already numerous issues on the offensive line.
With Nate Solder entering his first season as a starting left tackle in only his second year, Logan Mankins' status for the season unclear after tearing his ACL, Dan Koppen coming off a season which finished on IR, Brian Waters being in the twilight of his career and Sebastien Vollmer coming off an injury hit season, the Patriots' most reliable offensive lineman appears to be Dan Connolly.
Connolly entered last season as a backup guard but became the team's starting center once Koppen was lost for the year. After filling in impressively, it was unclear who would be the starter at center between the two entering this year. Now that Gallery is gone, the likelihood is that Connolly will revert to his old spot at guard, but on the left not right side, with Koppen returning to be the starting center if healthy.
Bill Belichick was a big fan of Gallery and he should have been the favorite to fill in for Logan Mankins at left guard had he not retired. Gallery was the most experienced and proven of the team's options to start alongside the inexperienced Solder. Because Matt Light has also retired, the Patriots would likely have asked Gallery to provide some tackle depth also.
Presuming that Brian Waters will eventually turn up to camp, then youngster Marcus Cannon should be allowed to focus fully on being a backup tackle while Ryan Wendell will be elevated as a backup interior lineman. If Waters doesn't play for the Patriots this year, Wendell could find himself as a starting guard.
With Gallery out of the mix, it appears all but set that Connolly will return to guard and there will be a straight up decision to make between Waters and Wendell to start at the other guard spot.
The Patriots suddenly have sparse offensive linemen...
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