New England Patriots offseason may hinge on Trent Brown re-signing

Trent Brown #77 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
Trent Brown #77 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots offseason has been tough to watch so far. A patient approach was certainly expected coming into the offseason, but watching pretty much every other AFC team make a blockbuster trade or sign a big name free agent has been discouraging to say the least.

Still, there’s reason to be encouraged by New England’s work so far. They have managed to retain a large number of their own free agents, which wasn’t necessarily a guarantee heading into the offseason. Maintaining a specific culture is very important to Bill Belichick, and his work so far this offseason has clearly displayed that.

But even with that, there’s no denying that the Patriots have gotten worse during free agency. They lost key players such as J.C. Jackson and Ted Karras in free agency, and traded arguably their top offensive player in Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for virtually nothing. In an offseason where most of the AFC has dramatically improved, New England has taken a step back.

While things look bleak now, there’s still a chance to salvage things this offseason. In order for that to happen though, one particular move needs to be made, and that move would be re-signing offensive lineman Trent Brown. Without Brown, the Patriots will not have the means to properly build up their roster this offseason, and that could lead to an ugly 2022 season.

The New England Patriots offseason now depends on re-signing Trent Brown

The Patriots had noticeable holes coming into the offseason, and so far they have only been exacerbated. Belichick and the front office have done a good job a limting those holes by bringing back key free agents like Devin McCourty and Ja’Whaun Bentley, but New England is one more gut punch away from truly being in trouble. Losing Brown could very well be that deciding blow.

The Pats o-line is already in a tough spot thanks to the aforementioned Mason trade. As of right now, the Patriots offensive line really only features David Andrews, Isaiah Wynn, and Michael Onwenu. Guys like Justin Herron and Yasir Durant are still around, but as we saw last season, actually having them play is more of a last resort option.

Bringing Brown back is the only way to ensure that the currently sinking Patriots ship doesn’t fully go under. There are a lot of holes on the boat that Belichick is doing his best to patch up, but for every hole he fixes, it feels like a new one pops up. Losing Brown would be the final hole that sinks the New England Patriots ship for the 2022 season.

Let’s start with the obvious, and that is that Brown is a very skilled lineman in this league. Brown only managed to play nine games last season, but the difference in the offense, particularly the run game, when he was on the field was hard to miss. He’s a ginormous human being who can play either tackle position on the line, and he rarely gets beat.

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Brown’s ability to play both tackle positions makes him that much more valuable, and it may be key for the Pats later on this offseason. It’s hard to see New England sticking with Wynn at left tackle after a pretty rough 2021 season, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him slide into the left guard spot, leaving both tackle spots open. Onwenu can play pretty much all over the line too, but I’d expect to see him taking over Mason’s vacant spot at right guard.

Brown coming back crosses off a huge need on the New England Patriots offseason to-do list. Instead of needing to find two starting caliber o-linemen, that number would quickly be dropped to just one, which is very doable with the NFL Draft beginning to draw near. It’s not unreasonable to expect Belichick to find at least a placeholder for the final offensive line spot in the draft, but finding two is.

This is key because the Patriots offseason priorities have taken a big turn. Another playmaker at wide receiver is still a pressing need, but New England needs more help at cornerback with Jackson gone, and they need it badly. Drafting a cornerback with the 21st overall pick in the draft seems like the only plausible move at this point.

With that pick gone, you still have so many other areas that need to be addressed. Another wideout would be nice, but does that come ahead of an offensive lineman, or a pass rusher on defense, or even some more depth on the interior d-line? With just over $12 million in cap space and fewer draft picks than usual, this all can’t be accomplished in one offseason.

The good thing is that it’s not going to be expected for all these needs to filled during one offseason (at least by reasonable minded Patriots fans, that is). But doing as much as can be done this offseason will open up what can be done next offseason for New England.

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Based on the strength of the AFC, it would take a miracle for the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl in 2022. But keeping pace with the top teams isn’t unreasonable. Earning a playoff spot in this conference would be a victory; heck doing so in 2021 was a massive victory, even if the playoff appearence itself wasn’t what us Patriots fans wanted to see.

Re-signing Brown would go a long way to helping ensure the Pats can maximize their current roster for the 2022 season. This isn’t to say he’s the difference between a Super Bowl and a losing season, but his return would help Mac Jones have a steadying presence in front of him for the foreseeable future. After a painfully slow start to the offseason, Brown is the only hope New England has now, and they would be wise to do what they can to bring him back.