The New England Patriots have needs at several positions, including quarterback, one week before NFL free agency.
So what does Bill Belichick do?
Naturally, he renovates an area of strength, swinging a trade Tuesday with the Las Vegas Raiders to bring back offensive tackle Trent Brown.
Of course, it’s worth noting that Brown’s addition could be New England’s way of offsetting the potential loss of starting guard Joe Thuney, an impending free agent after playing under the franchise tag in 2020. In which case, it’s a savvy move by the Patriots, who were able to take advantage of their ample salary cap space and the Raiders’ apparent desire to create more financial flexibility of their own.
But could there be more to the deal? Might Brown’s return offer a clue as to what New England is looking for on the quarterback market?
Honestly, probably not. It’s simply hard to imagine the trade for Brown — a good player, to be fair — is a precursor for how the Patriots plan to address the most important position on the field.
Still, it was a talking point Tuesday on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak and Bertrand,” with Scott Zolak alluding to the fact that Brown is better equipped to thrive in an offense with a pocket passer; not a run-centric system with a mobile QB, like, say, Cam Newton.
“I think Brown is more comfortable at left tackle here, in this offense, and based on the protection schemes that you’ve run before,” Zolak said. “You still have the same offensive coordinator, and if you get a throwing quarterback and go back to the three-step, five-step, play-action drops, it’s an indicator for Brown on the backside that, ‘OK, I know the depth of the quarterback and my expectations for pass protections.'”
Again, there could be no connection whatsoever between Brown’s return and the Patriots’ continued search for a quarterback one year after Tom Brady left New England to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After all, for whatever it’s worth, Brown is returning from the Raiders, who employ Marcus Mariota, a duel-threat QB, as their backup behind Derek Carr.
But such is life in 2021, when the Pats inevitably will be linked in speculation to nearly every signal-caller until Belichick addresses the position. And if we’re scouring for hints, it’s at least noteworthy that Brown — who could play left tackle or right tackle for New England — is considered a better pass blocker than a run blocker.
Maybe this means New England’s 2021 offense will look more like the one offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels deployed in 2018, Brown’s lone season with the Patriots and Brady’s second-to-last campaign in Foxboro. Or maybe we’re just talking out our keisters in the hopes of somehow climbing into Belichick’s mind this offseason.
Probably the latter, admittedly. But you never know. Might as well do a little deductive reasoning before free agency officially begins March 17.