For a good stretch of the season, when nothing on the offense seemed to be going right, one player had been playing some of the best football of his career. It was somewhat overshadowed by how poorly everyone around him was performing, mainly Mac Jones, but Trent Brown had been playing like one of the best offensive linemen in the league.
His awakening happened at the perfect time, with so many injuries and consistency issues from the line itself, which also impacted how the quarterbacks were playing. Brown was outperforming his teammates, which earned him a top grade by PFF.
But just like it has in the past, it began to go downhill as the season progressed.
The year started on the wrong foot, with Brown missing some practices and alleged attitude issues. Bill Belichick and the Patriots tried accommodating the left tackle by increasing his incentives to $2 million. It was an easy decision for them since he was a valuable addition to the team last year.
Because of nagging ankle and knee injuries keeping him sidelined for a few games, Brown no longer qualified to earn all the incentive pay. And that's when it has been alleged that the Patriots began having issues with him remaining focused and motivated, which led to his healthy scratch against the Bills on Sunday.
The Patriots issues with Trent Brown are nothing new, just ask Dante Scarnecchia
Although the problems the team is said to be having with Brown are similar to what they've dealt with in the past, this time around feels a bit different. He's been quite vocal with his displeasure about a few things when speaking to the media this year, like calling out a reporter earlier in the season for suggesting he was perpetually late.
He expressed more frustration just a couple of weeks ago when rookie quarterback Malik Cunningham signed with the Ravens since he didn't receive a proper opportunity to show what he could do during his time in New England.
Things appear to have escalated over the past week, as Brown was seen in the Patriots locker room celebration video seemingly uninterested in partaking in the group huddle led by Matthew Slater. Fans immediately pointed out his behavior in the video, adding more questions about his stance with the team.
He had been considered one of the prominent pending free agents that the team should try to re-sign as soon as possible, and even though that could still happen, it's looking like there's a distance growing between the team and Brown. He said as much when speaking to the media before Sunday's game.
"We already had that opportunity (to reach an extension),” Brown said. “We have had plenty of opportunities to get that done. I mean, I’m not opposed to it, but we are at the end of the season. …
"It’d be kind of like, I feel like I’d be kind of doing myself a disservice to not see what other opportunities are out there, just at this point.”
He went on to mention that while signing his previous contract in his return to the team, Belichick told him if he had a good season, they would extend him fairly quickly. That never happened, which is likely part of the reason for his unhappiness as the season nears its end.
That's rumored to be the reason for his benching in Sunday's loss to the Bills, as he is currently healthy and should be able to play. When pressed on why the decision was made to scratch him, Belichick refused to provide an honest answer, only saying they "activated players we wanted to play."
Given how things have transpired in recent days, it's fair to assume we won't see Brown suit up for the final game of the season against the Jets next Sunday. It's an unfortunate end for the once-dominant tackle, who had all the makings of a top-of-the-league lineman this season, but speedbumps and frustrations became too much to overcome.