What Would Matt Light Retirement Mean for New England Patriots?

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IApril 18, 2012

HONOLULU - JANUARY 30:  Matt Light #72 of the New England Patriots stands on the field during the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 30, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

If recent reports are right, this could be the end of an era for the New England Patriots.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:

Patriots left tackle Matt Lightrecently declined to comment on whether he will or won’t retire at the relatively young age (for an offensive lineman) of 33.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that Light will indeed retire.

Light has been an anchor for the offensive line and a leader both on and off the field for the Patriots since the dynasty days. In fact, Light is the only left tackle Tom Brady has ever known; the two have been together since 2001.

With that said, not all is lost.

Let's get the positive spin started off with the approximately $5 million the Patriots would save on Light's cap space. 

As for the left tackle position, the Patriots covered their bases last year when they selected Colorado tackle Nate Solder with the 17th-overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Solder played in all 16 games, starting 13 at right tackle. He played 1,044 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus, playing at both tackle spots and lining up as a tight end on occasion.

If Light retires, it's safe to say Solder's role and position will be a little more stable.

Like any rookie, Solder had his ups and downs in his rookie season, but flashed the potential to do great things at left tackle and was regarded highly by both Light and guard Brian Waters.

Marcus Cannon was another 2011 draft selection and played marginally at right tackle when he was healthy enough to do so. He is on the upswing after chemotherapy to treat non-Hodgkins lymphoma and could likely compete with Sebastian Vollmer as the team's starting right tackle.

Going forward, the Patriots may want to add further depth at offensive tackle. They have yet to add a free agent at the position this offseason and could use a fourth name on the depth chart in the event that injuries ravage them at the position.

And boy, would that be an unpleasant welcome to the post-Light era.