The New England Patriots re-signed Trent Brown this week, and this signing will have major implications for the rest of the teams’ 2022 roster building. And yes, the implications are all positive. Few moves could have been more important to team construction than to have retained Brown.
How’s that? He’s just an offensive tackle, no less.
True enough, but his benefits to the team and the rest of its offseason — which frankly, up to his signing, had been lackluster at best — will be huge. No one will be happier than quarterback Mac Jones that Trent Brown is back, and for good reason.
Brown is a massive presence on the offensive line, an obstacle to any and all defensive players who attack from his side. That’s why Brown would be (and should be) better deployed at offensive left tackle in 2022 and beyond. There, he can protect the young quarterback’s blind side when passing.
Let’s explore that and all the other positive impacts that this one huge signing will have on the Patriots’ team-building (such as it is) during the rest of the offseason.
Patriots’ Trent Brown is an underrated offensive lineman
Trent Brown manned that critical offensive left tackle position in 2018, coincidentally the last season the Patriots (then with old Tom Brady still at the helm) won the Super Bowl. It was no fluke. Indeed, the lone touchdown in that game against the Rams was eventuated by Brown, who plowed the road for Sony Michel’s TD run.
It’s time for Bill Belichick and whoever his offensive coach may be to move Brown back to left tackle where he belongs. That positive move would impact others on the line and will have major ramifications on the rest of the offseason. First, Brown at OLT means that Isaiah Wynn, a solid lineman but not right-sized to be an offensive left tackle, can be moved elsewhere along that line or traded.
In the first option, Wynn would be a terrific guard playing on the left, alongside center David Andrews and Brown. He has adequate (though not ideal) size for a guard and would not be penalized because of his lack of length, as he is at left tackle playing on an island. It makes great sense for both team and player to play him at guard.
Wynn is a terrific run blocker and he will help make up for the losses of two starting guards from last season, who are now gone to play elsewhere. That, of course, would be the traded rock at right guard Shaq Mason, who headed to Tampa Bay for a meager fifth-round draft pick, and Ted Karras, who signed with Cincinnati.
Alternatively, they could trade Wynn for a draft pick or two which they need desperately.
In addition, the pressure is now lessened a bit for the team to invest a first-round pick in an offensive tackle. An investment maybe in the second round still makes perfect sense after taking a No. 1 wide receiver in the first at No. 21.
Alternatively, they could trade down, acquire more picks, and still take a wide receiver and offensive tackle in the first two rounds.
The rest of the offensive line is a question mark, though Michael Onwenu will likely start at either right tackle or guard. Selecting a tackle early in the draft remains a necessity.
So much rests on any team’s offensive line. Brown will improve the passing game by keeping Mac Jones’ blindside (hopefully at left tackle) clean. A clean pocket means completions. He’ll also continue to be a massive bulldozer in the run game. Running keeps drives and the clock moving and results in points. In addition, long drives keep Josh Allen and his counterparts off the field and keep the Patriots’ defense fresh. That’s not new stuff, but still relevant.
In sum, Brown’s re-signing is about the best thing the Patriots could have done this offseason. Karras’ re-signing would have been second. At least the main man is going to be back. That’s a very good move, and in light of their poor moves and many non-moves, it was absolutely essential. There’s still a lot more to do. Let’s hope they get it done, and soon.