The New England Patriots are entering their 2021 campaign fresh off one of the biggest offseasons in franchise history. Not only did they draft their presumptive quarterback of the future, they also spent considerable resources to upgrade a roster that struggled to a 7-9 record last year.
The first big move of the spring was not a big-money signing or high-profile draft pick, however. Instead, the Patriots sent a fifth-round selection in the 2022 draft to the Las Vegas Raiders to reacquire offensive tackle Trent Brown.
Based on his training camp performance so far, it appears as if Brown has not skipped a beat after two inconsistent years as a Raider. The 28-year-old immediately slid into the starting right tackle spot and stands out due to his rare combination of size, technique and power.
“Trent’s done a good job of not only re-acclimating himself, but bringing a good level of leadership and toughness and dependability to the team that I know everybody respects and appreciates,” head coach Bill Belichick said during a press conference call on Monday.
“He’s ready to go. He’s got a good blue collar working attitude. He competes well. Whatever the situation is; run, pass, two-minute drill, goal line, whatever it happens to be, he competes well. He performs well.”
Brown has plenty of experience to build on. Not only did he spend three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and two more with the Raiders, who also was a starting member of the Patriots’ last Super Bowl team in 2018.
Back then, Brown also was acquired via trade — New England brought him in from San Francisco during the draft — and took over a starting role. He became the team’s left tackle following the free agency departure of Nate Solder, and never looked back: Brown started all 16 regular season games as well as three playoff contests en route to earning his first championship ring.
He also earned himself a sizable payday when the Raiders signed him to a four-year, $66 million contract as an unrestricted free agent. Now, however, he is back, and attempting to build on his first go-around as a member of the Patriots organization.
“He really has done a good job of taking the 2018 year of experience in the system and really building on it and becoming a much more valuable player in terms of leadership, communication and helping other people out,” Belichick said.
“I think in 2018, he was, as he should have been, very focused on just trying to do his job and do it well, which he still does, but I think now he also brings an element of experience and leadership and stability and dependability that is at a very high level, which is which is great. I mean, honestly, it’s been awesome to have him.”
Belichick is not the only member of the team to speak highly of Brown’s leadership. Isaiah Wynn, who succeeded him as the starting left tackle in 2019 and still plays the role to this day, also spoke about this aspect of his return on Monday.
“He’s been a good guy to have around. He’s been here before, so just being able to pick his brain and receive coaching from him has been great,” Wynn said.
When asked what exactly that coaching looks like, the former first-round draft pick mentioned the technical side of playing the tackle position.
“Just little technique stuff,” he said. “Like, if he sees my hands in the wrong place he’ll let me know. When he thinks I can get another kick in, he’ll let me know. So, just any type of coaching for me.”
Playing on another one-year deal, Brown is obviously no lock to return to the Patriots next season. However, he has spoken highly of his role within the organization and seems to embrace it — something Belichick’s and Wynn’s statements clearly illustrate. The future is uncertain but Brown is very much establishing himself as a leader along New England’s offensive line, both on and off the field.