The New England Patriots have made their first noteworthy move of the offseason…and it is a BIG one.
As reported on Tuesday morning, the New England Patriots are bringing back offensive lineman Trent Brown after two seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders. Per Jim McBride of the Boston Globe, New England will send a fifth-round draft choice in 2022 to the Raiders in exchange for Brown and a 2022 seventh-round selection. The deal reunites the Pats with the 6’8” 359-pound lineman, who last played for the Pats in 2018.
Brown’s first tour of duty in New England lasted only one season, after he was acquired via trade with the San Francisco 49ers. However, his impact on the Pats’ offensive line proved to me as massive as his frame. While providing stout protection on both the pass and the run, he helped the Pats to a championship run, culminating with a victory in Super Bowl LIII. In the 2019 offseason, Brown inked a four-year, $66 million contract with the Raiders to become the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL.
While occasionally showing flashes of the talent he regularly displayed in Foxboro, Brown never quite lived up to the expectations he was expected to fulfill with the Raiders. Brown struggled to stay healthy, playing only 16 of a possible 32 games over the last two years. This was likely a key factor in the team deciding to make this trade with the Patriots.
In order to facilitate this deal, Brown agreed to rework his contract. He will play on a one-year deal, worth a maximum of $11 million. He was previously scheduled to have two years and $29 million left on the contract he signed with the Raiders in 2019, but will now become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
As such, the 27-year-old Brown is set to return to New England to help enhance the depth and versatility along the offensive line. Brown is a natural tackle, who has played on both the right and left of several offensive lines. While he manned the left side during his 2018 season in New England, he would likely have to unseat incumbent left-side starter Isaiah Wynn. Should the Pats wish to employ him as a right tackle (a position he prominently played with the Raiders) his primary competition would be Marcus Cannon, who is set to return to the team after opting-out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Patriots remaking lineman include sophomore sensation Michael Onwenu, and backup options Yodny Cajuste, Korey Cunningham and Justin Herron.
Of course, conspicuous by their absence from this list are guard Joe Thuney and center David Andrews, both of which are set to become free agents when the League year officially begins. Some had conjectured that Thuney might be a candidate for receiving the franchise tag for the second straight year. However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Thursday that the Patriots will not use the franchise tag to keep Thuney from hitting free agency. Had the Patriots chosen to do so, it would have cost them $17.7 million. Instead, the former second-team All Pro is now expected to receive a lucrative contract, commensurate with the other top players at his position group.
Conversely, much has been quiet when it comes to news regarding David Andrews. Also unlikely to be tagged, Andrews is set for unrestricted free agency. However, there is an optimistic consensus (from sources close to both sides) that a deal to bring the Patriots center and team captain back to Foxboro is more likely than not.
The league year in the NFL is set to begin on March 17, 2021.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC