Patriots trade OT Justin Herron to Las Vegas Raiders. Here's why the move was necessary

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FOXBORO – The Patriots had to clear a roster spot on Wednesday, so the team decided to get creative.

According to the NFL Network, the Patriots are trading Justin Herron to the Las Vegas Raiders in a deal with the two teams flipping draft picks in 2024.

The deal was reported during Bill Belichick’s morning press conference, but the Patriots coach wouldn’t confirm the news.

“No, but when we can, if we can, we will,” said Belichick when asked if he could confirm the trade.

Herron was drafted in the sixth round in 2020 and developed into one of the Patriots top backup tackles. He played in 12 games, making six starts, as a rookie in 2020. Last season, he appeared in all 16 games while making four starts. Although he’s been active for both Patriots games this season, Herron didn’t play a snap.

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Dec 20, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Justin Herron (75) walks off the field after being defeated by the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Herron’s spot with the New England Patriots

This summer, Herron was beat out by Yodny Cajuste in the battle for the Patriots top backup tackle spot. Cajuste made his 2022 debut in Week 1, filling in for Isaiah Wynn at right tackle. The Patriots also added veteran tackle Marcus Cannon to the practice squad last week. Cannon started four games last year for Houston before a back injury ended his season.

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How Daniel Ekuale’s suspension influenced New England’s trade of Justin Herron

The reason for trading Herron, however, goes beyond the team’s tackle depth. Wednesday marked the Patriots deadline to put defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale on the 53-man roster. Ekuale started the season serving a two-game suspension – for a reason the NFL didn’t announce and the defensive tackle hasn’t revealed.

Ekuale played in seven games last season for the Patriots. He finished with five tackles to go with two sacks. The 28-year-old adds more defensive tackle depth to the roster to go along with Davon Godchaux, Lawrence Guy, Christian Barmore and Carl Davis

Ekuale was present at Patriots practice on Wednesday, which means he’s been added to the team’s 53-man roster. For the Pats, it made sense to trade a player for added draft capital as opposed to releasing someone to create a roster spot.

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8 throws a pass over New England Patriots defensive tackle Daniel Ekuale (95) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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Herron heads to a place that knows him well with former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels now the head coach of the Raiders. This deal marks the second trade between Las Vegas and the Patriots this offseason after the Pats traded quarterback Jarrett Stidham to the Raiders in May.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Patriots trade offensive lineman Justin Herron to the Raiders