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Patriots Daily: New England Makes Offensive Guard Swap

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James Madison place kicker Ethan Ratke (91) is congratulated by offensive lineman Liam Fornadel (77) after kicking an extra point during the first half of the FCS championship NCAA college football game against North Dakota State, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Frisco, Texas. Fornadel has signed with the New England Patriots. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)

The New England Patriots released offensive guard Ryan Johnson on Monday. A day later, the team added his roster replacement. The Patriots signed Liam Fornadel, filling the lone opening on their 90-man offseason roster. New England continues to have 18 offensive linemen under contract heading into training camp. Let’s take a closer look at the players involved in the moves.

Ryan Johnson

Johnson was invited to the Patriots’ rookie minicamp after not being selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-4, 315-pound guard impressed enough to sign as a UDFA. He participated in OTAs in mandatory minicamp. Before entering the NFL, Johnson began his college career at Duquesne. He eventually transferred to Youngstown State. A veteran of 32 college games, Johnson has excellent size for a guard. He was projected to have the versatility to play all along the offensive line.

Liam Fornadel

Although Fonadel is listed as a guard, he was a versatile offensive lineman in college. In his collegiate career at James Madison, Fornadel began as a guard. He moved to right tackle for two seasons before moving over to left tackle in his final season. He went undrafted in 2022 but was invited to rookie minicamp with the Steelers, though he never signed with Pittsburgh.

Since then, Liam Fornadel has been a member of the D.C. Defenders. The Defenders played in the XFL (Fonadel was selected to the 2023 All-UFL Team) before the XFL and USFL merged to form the UFL in 2024, where he continued to play for the franchise. The United Football League season ended Sunday (with Tom Brady in the broadcast booth) and New England wasted no time signing Fornadel once it did.

Fonadel’s versatility is clearly attractive to New England. Jerod Mayo stated that if a player can play guard, he expects them to be able to play center. If they play right tackle, they’d be expected to be able to play on the left side. With this logic, Liam Fornadel could lineup at any spot along the offensive line based on his playing experience. How that ability translates to NFL competition remains to be seen. Stay tuned.

Also in today’s Patriots Daily:

Daily Patriots Fun Fact

The James Madison Dukes have produced 25 NFL players. This includes Pro Football Hall of Fame member Charles Haley. However, none of the Dukes have played for the Patriots. Liam Fornadel has an opportunity to become the first.

Post of the Day

Today’s post is courtesy of Bobby Football, with a look at Liam Fornadel playing with a mean streak that made Logan Mankins so popular with the New England Patriots for a decade:

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Award-winning blogger, Dan's work has also been featured on Fox Sports, Boston Metro, Barstool Sports, MLB.com, and many other outlets.

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