New England Patriots release left tackle Antonio Garcia

NFL


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots are releasing left tackle Antonio Garcia, the team’s 2017 third-round pick, with a non-football-illness designation, a league source told ESPN’s Field Yates on Friday.

The move is mildly surprising considering what the team gave up to draft him. And the void at left tackle is one of the biggest questions facing the team, as starter Nate Solder signed with the New York Giants in free agency.

The 6-foot-7, 302-pound Garcia was selected No. 85 overall last year after he was credited with 70 knockdown blocks and didn’t allow a sack in more than 900 offensive snaps as a senior at Troy. With Solder entering the final year of his contract in 2017, the Patriots had traded a third-round pick (No. 96) and fourth-rounder (No. 124) to move up to select Garcia, with the hope of grooming him as a possible replacement in 2018.

But after taking part in the first few practices of 2017 training camp, Garcia never took the field again, ultimately being placed on the non-football-illness list. The Boston Herald reported that Garcia had blood clots in his lungs.

Garcia had been taking part in the Patriots’ voluntary offseason program, which just concluded its fourth week.

As for who ultimately plays left tackle, the Patriots drafted Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn in the first round, and also traded for four-year veteran Trent Brown from the San Francisco 49ers.

On Friday, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said he’s happy with the team’s linemen. He noted Wynn has “great traits,” and Brown, who primarily played right tackle with the 49ers, will also get work on the left side.

“I want to make this really clear: I really like the guys we have here right now,” Scarnecchia said. “I’m really excited about working with these guys. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but I’m really happy with it, because I like the way they work, I like the people. I think they’re going to do everything we’re going to ask them to do, and that’s all I care about. And we’ll see what we can do from there.”

While some teams projected Wynn as an NFL guard because of his height, Scarnecchia said the team plans to take an extended look at him at tackle.

“He’s played left tackle in the best conference in America [and] played it pretty good,” Scarnecchia said. “We’re going to take a look at it and see how it goes. … We look for three traits — smart, tough and athletic enough to play the position — and he’s got all three. We’ll see if that translates to this level.”

Scarnecchia added the Patriots’ preference would be to leave eight-year veteran Marcus Cannon at right tackle.



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