Report: Raiders to Trade Trent Brown to Patriots; OL Restructured $11M Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2021

Las Vegas Raiders offensive tackle Trent Brown #77 reacts after a touchdown by Indianapolis Colts safety Khari Willis #37 during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jeff Bottari)
Jeff Bottari/Associated Press

The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to trade veteran offensive tackle Trent Brown to the New England Patriots on Tuesday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

B/R Gridiron @brgridiron

He’s seems happy to be back in NE 👀 https://t.co/ytHLcMycP7

Brown spent one season with the Pats in 2018, and Rapoport reported the lineman has reworked his deal into a one-year, $11 million contract for 2021, meaning he can become a free agent next offseason.

MMQB's Albert Breer reported details of the trade:

Albert Breer @AlbertBreer

Terms of the Patriots/Raiders trade ... • Patriots get: OT Trent Brown, 2022 seventh-round pick. • Raiders get: 2022 fifth-round pick.

Before the 2019 season, the Raiders signed Brown in free agency to a four-year, $66 million deal. He proceeded to make his first Pro Bowl.

Still, B/R's Brad Gagnon argued in July that the 27-year-old was the most overpaid player on the team, a combination of his performance relative to his contract and the fact that the Raiders "surprisingly don't have any horrendous contracts on the books."

"Brown was somehow a Pro Bowler in 2019, but he missed five games and struggled as a run-blocker at right tackle," Gagnon wrote. "He's a decent pass-blocker with tantalizing size at 6'8", 380 pounds, but he turned one decent year with tremendous support in New England into the second-richest right tackle contract in NFL history."

That assessment proved prescient as Brown's value plummeted in 2020 for reasons reportedly both in and out of his control.

The Raiders placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list in October and then again in November. The team subsequently received a fine and forfeited a draft pick for violations of the NFL's COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Brown was said to be among the players guilty of committing an infraction:

Dianna Russini @diannaESPN

Source says Raiders Trent Brown wasn’t wearing Kinexon proximity device (tracing device) at all times in the facility and there were instances of the offensive linemen unmasked together on the sidelines during practice while team was in intensive protocols.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Here are some violations, per source: 🏈HC Jon Gruden has not consistently worn a mask. 🏈Players attended a large indoor gathering. 🏈Team allowed an unauthorized person into its locker room after a game. Now team has fined half million, Gruden $150k and loss of a 6th. https://t.co/tlgggkJEE9

As if that wasn't enough, the Florida product was hospitalized before the team's Week 8 win over the Cleveland Browns. According to NFL Network's Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, he was receiving a pregame IV when a pocket of air entered his bloodstream.

He missed a stretch of seven straight games, returning for the Week 14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Rapoport reported March 3 the Raiders had discussed trades involving Brown. General manager Mike Mayock did little to quiet the speculation when he acknowledged the player's long-term future was far from assured, per the Associated Press' Josh Dubow:

"When he's healthy, in shape and ready to go, he's as dominant as any tackle in football. He proved that early in the 2019 season. Since then, it's been kind of a roller coaster. What he needs to do more than anything is get himself in the best shape of his life and come out ready to prove that he is a dominant tackle in the National Football League. That's all it takes. If Trent gets in shape and stays committed, there's not a better talent out there."

Mayock went on to say he liked the idea of Brown returning to his best to help anchor the offensive line but that the "jury's out and we still have to make some decisions on our roster in general."

Finances were almost certainly a factor behind this decision too.

Cost-cutting maneuvers happen every offseason, and they were bound to be more frequent with the salary cap set to be lower in 2021 than it was in 2020.

Since none of the remaining money on Brown's deal is guaranteed, Las Vegas gets to count his entire $14 million salary-cap hit as cap savings. The same would have been true if the team had released him outright.

Mayock outlined both why the Patriots acquired Brown and why the trade could backfire. If anything, fans might wonder if New England could have better tested the Raiders' resolve and waited to see if he'd eventually get cut, thus not only saving a trade chip but also allowing itself to get him on a more team-friendly deal.

Brown was excellent for the Patriots in 2018, though, starting all 16 games and earning a huge contract with the Raiders.

If he can put forth a repeat performance in New England in 2021, it could go a long way toward helping the Pats improve on their disappointing 7-9 record.