The Jets and Lions have effectively swapped centers.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Jets are signing former Lions third-rounder Travis Swanson.
The best part: Coach Bill Belichick and New England created their own open market by making two big trades with Cleveland, one for defensive tackle Danny Shelton and another for cornerback Jason McCourty. New England also made an underrated trade with Oakland for wide receiver/special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson.
Subtracting and adding it all, here are the answers to all the key questions about the Patriots’ offseason so far.
This is the most significant hit the Patriots have taken in free agency. Although Solder did not have a great 2017 season in pass protection, he represented stability in front of Brady while excelling in run blocking. Between Matt Light and Solder, Brady has benefited from a steady presence at the most important position on the line.
Philip Rivers has a new backup quarterback.
Geno Smith has reached an agreement with the Los Angeles Chargers, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
Smith, the former Jets starter, spent last season with the Giants. He started one game, when Eli Manning was controversially benched, and appeared in one other game. Smith finished the season with 212 passing yards and an 84.5 passer rating.
With Solder entering his age-30 season after some decline, New England was smart not to pay more for him than any other left tackle in the league. New York was desperate to do so given the status of its line.
Clayborn exploded with a career-high 9 1/2 sacks as a situational edge rusher for the Falcons last season, with six coming in one game against the Cowboys. The Patriots needed a savvy veteran with a variety of moves who can take better advantage of the attention Trey Flowers gets on the right side. Clayborn off the left edge has proved he can work over lesser right tackles.
In base 4-3 packages, Shelton and Clayborn bring balance to the forces of Brown and Flowers. Shelton and Clayborn are more specialized than typical Belichick defensive players, but they directly curb two weaknesses.