Mike ReissESPN Staff Writer Aug 27, 2023 12:09pm ET3 minute read
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In a depth-based trade Sunday, the New England Patriots acquired offensive tackle Tyrone Wheatley Jr. from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for running back Pierre Strong Jr.
Wheatley, the son of former Michigan star and NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley, may help fill what is arguably the Patriots’ greatest need. Injuries and inconsistencies on the offensive line have been a major concern in training camp and preseason, and Wheatley’s height (6’1″, 150 kg) and strength give them some perspective for development.
Cleveland had four players ahead of the 26-year-old Wheatley in offensive tackle, meaning he was unlikely to be included in the 53-man roster and there was no guarantee he would receive waivers to return to the practice roster would approve. Wheatley has never appeared in an NFL regular-season game.
Meanwhile, the Browns are looking for a third running back behind Nick Chubb and Jerome Ford, and Strong may offer them a quick addition to their depth chart. The Patriots selected Strong from South Dakota in the fourth round of the 2022 draft. Last season, he played sparingly on offense, totaling ten carries for 100 yards and one touchdown, and seven receptions for 42 yards.
The Browns fired recently signed running back Justin Wilkins on Sunday, a day after he fumbled with quarterback Deshaun Watson and had a handoff swap issue in the team’s preseason finale against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Patriots have Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott at the top of their running back depth chart, and Strong should fill a backup role.
The swap is contingent on both players passing the physical and will come before all NFL teams are required to reduce their rosters to 53 players by Tuesday’s deadline at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Wheatley was injured in a fight at Browns training camp on July 30, while Strong missed a week of training camp with a concussion.
ESPN Browns reporter Jake Trotter contributed to this story.