The Patriots won’t be using the franchise tag on left guard Joe Thuney, which means he’ll hit free agency and by all accounts won’t be back with the team in 2021. However, the team agreed with the Raiders on a trade that returns to them tackle Trent Brown for a swap of late-round 2022 draft picks.
The Patriots also agreed to a re-worked contract for Brown which will pay him $11 million dollars for the 2021 season after which he’ll become a free agent. Brown initially had a contract that ran for the next two years which would have paid him $13.7 million in base salary in 2021 and $15 million in 2022.
The Patriots gave the Raiders a 5th round draft pick in 2022 and will receive a 7th round 2022 in return as well as Brown.
This trade gives the Patriots a very good first move heading into free agency and allows them plenty of flexibility for their offensive line while acknowledging that Thuney probably won’t be coming back this year, which isn’t a shock.
Brown is a known commodity, who when is 100 percent is one of the better tackles in the league and performed extremely well for the Patriots during their Super Bowl run in 2018. He’s a massive presence at 6’8, 360 pounds and is versatile, and can play left tackle (for New England) or right tackle for the Raiders.
That opens up a wealth of possibilities for the Patriots in 2021. While left tackle Isaiah Wynn has had injury concerns during his brief career, the team can move Brown to left tackle and play Wynn either at left guard or right tackle. If the Patriots keep Wynn at left tackle and play Brown at right tackle, they can plug Michael Onwenu, who had a very impressive rookie season to left guard to replace Thuney. Putting Brown at left tackle and putting Wynn at left guard would leave Onwenu without a spot if they decide to keep Cannon. Moving Onwenu to guard his natural position makes sense.
That would make Marcus Cannon, who opted out of 2020 due to COVID-19 expendable for either a trade or release. That would free up $6,276,250 in salary cap space, according to our resident salary cap guru Miguel @patscap. That would…right now leave Justin Herron or Yodny Cajuste as the front runners for the swing tackle role.
Brown will be a free agent again after the 2021 season is only 27 years old and can play himself once more into a lucrative free-agent contract. However, because the Patriots reworked his contract, they won’t be in line for a compensatory pick if Brown bolts again in 2022.
Brown had a Pro-Bowl season for the Raiders in 2019 but was hit with some bad luck in 2020 which limited him to just five games. He missed some time due to COVID-19 and then before a game against Cleveland, he was being given an IV when air entered his bloodstream, a potentially fatal situation. He was rushed to the hospital. But given the circumstances, he should be fine in the long-term.
There may still be moves made for the Patriots offensive line in either free agency or the draft, but bringing back Brown for a fifth-round pick in 2022 is a win for the team. And Bill Belichick has traditionally hated holding onto fifth-round picks.
Now with Joe Thuney likely to leave, the next big issue for the Patriots offensive line is to resign David Andrews. Stay tuned…
Posted Under: 2021 Patriots Offseason
Tags: Bill Belichick David Andrews Isaiah Wynn Justin Herron Marcus Cannon Michael Onwenu New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots offensive line Shaq Mason trade with Las Vegas Raiders Trent Brown Yodny Cajuste