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Patriots trade OL Marcus Cannon to Houston Texans for draft picks

The Patriots are trading Marcus Cannon to the Texans.
The Patriots are trading Marcus Cannon to the Texans.Jim Davis

Marcus Cannon is heading home to Texas after the Patriots traded their longtime right tackle to Houston on Sunday afternoon, according to a league source.

In return, the Patriots will move up in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds of next month’s draft by flipping picks with the Texans. The move also creates $6.2 million in salary cap space for the Patriots, who are projected to have around $55 million to spend with the legal tampering period for free agent negotiations set to start Monday.

Cannon was one of New England’s league-high eight opt outs in 2020. He underwent treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2011, his rookie season. According to an ESPN report, Cannon had not reported to Gillette Stadium for a physical or workouts the way the other opt outs had. He recently tweeted a video of himself working out.

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A 10-year veteran and three-time Super Bowl champion, Cannon was a fifth-round selection out of Texas Christian, where he starred in football and track and field.

Though born in Roswell, N.M., Cannon, a second-team All-Pro in 2016, grew up in the Texas football hotbed of Odessa, made famous by the book “Friday Night Lights.”

It’s the first transaction between the franchises since Nick Caserio left New England to take the general manager’s job in Houston and the second move in less than a week as the Patriots reshape their offensive line.

The Patriots re-acquired tackle Trent Brown in a trade with the Raiders last week and it’s possible he slides into Cannon’s spot, though Brown played left tackle exclusively during his previous stint in New England.

It’s unclear exactly which picks the clubs will be exchanging as both teams have multiple selections in the fourth and sixth rounds. In the fifth, the Patriots move up 11 spots, acquiring No. 148 and sending No. 159 to the Texans.

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A man of few words, Cannon took over the right tackle spot when left tackle Nate Solder tore his biceps in a game at Dallas in 2015, forcing right tackle Sebastian Vollmer to move to the left.

A massive man at 6 feet 6 inches and 335 pounds, Cannon was remarkably light on his feet and smoothly got into his backpedal to block pass rushers. He could be a bull in the ground game as well.

Marcus Cannon celebrated after the Patriots defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl 51.
Marcus Cannon celebrated after the Patriots defeated the Falcons in Super Bowl 51.Jae C. Hong

Cannon played at a high level from 2015-19 as the Patriots won a pair of Super Bowls. His 2017 season was cut short by injury.

Perhaps his most memorable game came in a win over the Cowboys in November 2019, when he turned in a gutsy performance despite battling a nasty stomach bug that forced him to miss practice time during the week.

Cannon was absent from pregame warmups and it was assumed he would be a scratch. He persuaded the medical and coaching staffs to let him play and he turned in a yeoman’s effort, missing just one series.

His teammates — particularly his fellow offensive linemen — raved about his toughness in the postgame locker room and coach Bill Belichick singled him out, as well.

“I’ll just say one final thing then in closing that one of the real top efforts today would have to go to Marcus Cannon,” the coach said. “Marcus was, for three days, just feeling under-the-weather. I honestly didn’t expect him to play today. We talked before the game and he felt like he’d be able to work through it, so we tried to help him out a little bit there at the half.

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“But, I would say overall, it was one of the top efforts I’ve seen. For a guy who just barely had enough strength to put on his uniform, went out there and played against multiple good football players. But certainly with [DeMarcus] Lawrence and [Michael] Bennett playing over there, I thought he played very, very competitively. Played tough and [showed] the kind of leadership and toughness that we have on this team, so that was a great job by Marcus.’'

Marcus Cannon hydrates on the bench late in a 2019 game against Houston.
Marcus Cannon hydrates on the bench late in a 2019 game against Houston.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Despite the expected loss of left guard Joe Thuney, the Patriots still will boast an excellent offensive line, especially if they are able to retain center David Andrews, who is a free agent.

There are myriad possibilities, but a line of Isaiah Wynn at left tackle, Mike Onwenu at left guard, Andrews at center, Shaq Mason at right guard, and Brown at right tackle would be considered a top-notch group.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.