The New England Patriots lost the NFL’s highest paid left guard in free agency and still might have the best offensive line in the league.
That’s at least the way 6-foot-8, 380-pound offensive tackle Trent Brown, who re-joined the Patriots via trade this offseason, views the unit’s potential.
Left guard Joe Thuney was signed away on a five-year, $80 million contract by the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency, but the Patriots already had a capable fill-in with Michael Onwenu, who was a rookie standout at multiple positions along the line in 2020, on the roster. Onwenu is expected to play next to left tackle Isaiah Wynn, who had his 2022 fifth-year option picked up this offseason, and center David Andrews, who somewhat surprisingly re-signed with New England this offseason. Brown is projected to play right tackle next to right guard Shaq Mason. The Patriots also have super sub Ted Karras ready to play guard or center.
“Whichever side I end up playing on, it really doesn’t even matter to me,” Brown, who played left tackle in his first tenure with the Patriots in 2018, said Wednesday. “I think we have two great guards and of course I feel like we have one of the best centers in the league. And then whichever side me and Isaiah play, we have two of the best tackles in the league.
“I think we’ll get back in the saddle and have one of the best O-lines in the league if not the best O-line. We just have to keep continuing to put the work in, work on the fundamentals and get back to the basics, and we’ll be all right. We’ll be just fine.”
Onwenu’s ability to play tackle makes Karras the top backup no matter who might get injured on the offensive line. If Brown gets injured at right tackle, then Onwenu could flip over to right tackle with Karras ready to step up at left guard. If Wynn gets injured at left tackle, then Brown could move to the blind side, Onwenu could go to right tackle and Karras could go to left guard. If the Patriots get down to a second backup offensive lineman, then Justin Herron, like Onwenu a 2020 sixth-round pick, has the ability to play as a swing tackle or guard.