The Patriots have added depth and talent to their offensive line by agreeing to a deal with the Las Vegas Raiders for offensive tackle Trent Brown. According to a source, the Patriots will acquire Brown, and a 2022 seventh-round pick in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
This will mark the second stint for Brown in New England. In 2018, he played left tackle for the Patriots, who went on to win Super Bowl . Brown then signed a four-year, $66 million contract with the then Oakland Raiders. That made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. With the Raiders, Brown moved to right tackle and earned Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career in 2019.
According to a source, Brown has agreed to restructure his contract and will be paid $11 million in 2021. He originally had two years and $29.5 million left on his deal. Brown will be a free agent in 2022.
Brown has dealt with durability concerns since leaving New England, where he played in every game. He played in 11 games in 2019, ending the season on the injured reserve. Brown played in just five games last season. He missed five games while on the COVID-19 list, three games due to a calf injury and then one game when a pregame IV caused air to enter his bloodstream, and he needed to be hospitalized.
At the end of the year, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock summed up the problem the Raiders had with Brown.
"When he's healthy, he's dominant,” Mayock said. “And you've got to juxtapose that with his inability to play, week to week, over a two-year period. We've got to get a more consistent player. We think he's the best right tackle in the league when healthy."
This trade gives the Patriots options ahead of free agency. They have two starting offensive linemen in need of new contracts with left guard Joe Thuney and center David Andrews. This trade likely signals that the Pats will lose Thuney, who will be the top guard on the open market and is expected to cash in. The Patriots were never close to re-signing Thuney last year, which is why they placed the franchise tag on the All-Pro guard.
The Pats could replace Thuney with either of their starting tackles from last season — Isaiah Wynn or Michael Onwenu.
If they want to move Brown back to left tackle, they could push Wynn inside to left guard. If they want Brown at right tackle, Onwenu would push inside to left guard. At this point, that seems more likely since Onwenu was drafted by the Patriots to play guard but was solid as a right tackle in 2020.
The Patriots also have to figure out what to do about Marcus Cannon, who is opting in for the 2021 season. The Patriots could release Cannon and free up just over $7 million in cap space. Either way, this trade gives the Patriots several options with their offensive line.
That's a good thing since there is uncertainty with their tackle position. Wynn has played in just 18 games over the last three seasons, all of which have seen him on the injured reserve. The left tackle played in 10 games last year and just eight the year before. Now, with Brown, Wynn, Cannon and Justin Herron, the Pats have great depth at an important position.