A calf injury suffered in Week 1 has kept him in street clothes until this week, when he returned to practice on Wednesday. Great news … kind of.
As it stands, it seems the Patriots have found their desired offensive line construction without Brown. Here’s what it’s looked like the past few weeks, which have featured three Patriots’ victories:
- LT Isaiah Wynn
- LG Ted Karras
- C David Andrews
- RG Shaq Mason
- RT Michael Onwenu
Over those last three games against the Jets, Chargers and Panthers, the Pats are averaging 147 rushing yards per game and Mac Jones has had enough protection to get the job done through the air when needed.
Would Brown’s return disrupt the status quo?
Could Trent Brown’s return to the Patriots displace Isaiah Wynn?
Yes and no. Yes, it would certainly affect the alignment that has led to the most success we’ve seen from New England this season. No, it wouldn’t cause things to come crashing down … unless it’s Onwenu who’s moved out of the right tackle position. But there’s no way the Patriots do that after he’s clearly been much more valuable on the outside.
So … would putting Brown at left tackle, where he’d likely be better than Wynn, be the answer? Could that actually elevate the O-line? There’s been a lot of criticism hurled in Wynn’s direction, and much has been warranted, but that’s a serious decision to make, and it’d likely signal Wynn is no longer being considered as the future at left tackle.
His career got off to a rough start after he missed his rookie season due to a torn Achillies, and he’s played in just 18 of a possible 25 games since. This year was supposed to be his first full season to prove to the team he can shoulder the load, but it’s clear there have been more struggles than triumphs.
The other option is moving him to left guard and displacing Karras, who’s been great. However, the Patriots picked up Wynn’s fifth-year option this offseason, so he’s here through 2023 unless he’s traded. But at 6-2, 310 pounds, he might be a better fit on the interior, especially since Brown is 6-foot-8 and 380 pounds while Onwenu stands at 6-foot-3 and 350 pounds.
Putting Brown at left tackle for the remainder of the season could also give the Pats insight into whether he can handle the position beyond 2022. He’s a free agent after this year, but he’s only 28 years old, so he can still be considered an option for the foreseeable future.
It’s worth discussing because Brown will not be benched if he’s making $9 million, nor will the Pats cut such an asset after opting not to trade him at the deadline.
There could be a way to utilize all of these talents, and it just so happens the best scenario could mean displacing both Wynn and Brown because of Onwenu’s emergence at right tackle.