After several weeks of voluntary workouts, the New England Patriots will finally welcome their entire roster to Gillette Stadium next week. On Tuesday, the club will kick off its three-day mandatory minicamp.
Among the players expected to report is starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Wynn will join his teammates after choosing not to participate in the voluntary portion of offseason workouts.
A first-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2018, Wynn is entering the final year of his rookie contract after the club opted to exercise his fifth-year option last spring. The 26-year-old, who started a combined 34 games over the last three years, is projected as the team’s starting left tackle yet again.
Wynn has played some good football when on the field, but his injury history and uneven 2021 campaign are issues potentially impacting his long-term outlook with the organization. His hefty $10.41 million salary cap number this season does not help either, and in combination with him sitting out voluntary offseason workouts — which is his collectively bargained right — created some speculation about his future.
At the moment, however, no surprises are expected. The 26-year-old reporting to minicamp, after all, was always the plan. The mandatory nature of said camp creates a straight-forward setting, after all: unless excused, absent players face potential team discipline.
Apparently, that will not be an issue with Wynn. He will therefore resume his position in the lineup, and be taking the field next to New England’s first-round draft pick, left guard Cole Strange.
Bill Belichick evaluates a ‘scrapping’ Malcolm Butler in his return from retirement
If there’s one player who is both a major uncertainty and, simultaneously, a crucially important piece in the New England Patriots’ plans, it’s Malcolm Butler. The Patriots coaxed Butler out of retirement to return to the NFL after one year away from the game.
Now that he’s back, they might just need him to be their top cornerback — or, at the very least, a starter.
“Malcolm works hard, like he always has,” head coach Bill Belichick said before Tuesday’s voluntary practice during organized team activities. “Very competitive, out there scrapping for balls. His aggressiveness, play style — we’re not in pads, but yeah, looks like it’s about the same.”
That’s good news for New England, which has Butler, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones, Terrance Mitchell, Jack Jones and Marcus Jones at cornerback, among others. The Patriots need Butler be Butler again. He was excellent in 2020 with the Tennessee Titans, though it’s unclear at what caliber he was playing for the Arizona Cardinals prior to his retirement.
“Malcolm’s the same player, in my opinion,” cornerback Jonathan Jones said Tuesday. “He comes out, he works hard and just wants to get better every day. He hasn’t lost that itch for the game.”
Butler played for the Patriots from 2014 to 2017 when he ascended from undrafted free agent to Super Bowl hero and shutdown cornerback. When it came time to pay Butler, however, New England left that to the Titans, who employed Butler from 2018 to 2020. He spent the 2021 offseason with the Cardinals, but decided to retire for a year in August prior to the season.
“I feel like I have a lot to prove, especially to myself,” Butler said on the back fields at Gillette Stadium Tuesday. “If I do it myself, I’ll prove it to my teammates at the same time. So that’s why I’m working hard every day and trying to stay focused.”