The New England Patriots were the most aggressive team in the league during the first week of free agency, but their quest to improve the roster actually began even before the legal tampering window opened last Monday. The previous week, after all, New England re-acquired offensive tackle Trent Brown via trade from the Las Vegas Raiders.
As part of the deal that saw the Patriots and Raiders exchange Day Three selections in the 2022 draft, Brown also reworked his contact. The details of that restructure that turned the two years remaining on his deal into one were released on Tuesday, and they show that the 27-year-old took a sizable pay cut just to return to New England.
OT Trent Brown: One year, $9 million
- Salary: $6.5 million
- Roster bonus: $2 million
- Weight bonus: $500,000
- Cap number: $7.625 million (2021)
Brown’s new contract is a one-year pact that is worth up to $11 million. Besides his fully guaranteed salary and weight bonus, he also has $2 million worth of roster bonuses embedded into the deal. Of those, however, only $625,000 are considered as likely to be earned after he played just five games during the 2020 season. The rest is classified as not likely to be earned and will therefore not counting against New England’s cap at the moment; every additional game he plays this season will raise his cap hit, though.
The deal also includes an additional $2 million in incentives on top of the basic structure. Brown will earn $1 million if he makes the Pro Bowl on first ballot, and will earn an additional $1 million if he is on the field for more than 90 percent of New England’s offensive snaps this season. Both are realistic targets: Brown made the Pro Bowl two years ago, and hit the 90-percent threshold in two of his last five seasons (including his 2018 campaign with the Patriots).
For a more comprehensive breakdown of the contract, please take a look at this graphic courtesy of Miguel Benzan.
Entering the offseason, Brown was halfway through the four-year, $66 million deal he signed with the Raiders back in 2019. While the guarantees on his contract were already up, thus creating a setting in which he could easily be traded, his remaining non-guaranteed salaries were substantial: Brown would have earned a base salary of $13.7 million in 2021 as well as $15 million in 2022.
Now, he will be playing on $6.5 million salary and $500,000 in additional guarantees. While that is still plenty of money, it also shows that the veteran offensive lineman did give up potential earnings to return to New England: he could have earned up to $28.7 million the next two seasons, but instead will get up to $9 million this year plus a chance to enter free agency again.
The pay cut is therefore a good compromise for both parties. The Patriots have a smaller salary cap number to manage compared to his original contract with the Raiders, while Brown added some guarantees and an opportunity to cash in next offseason again.