Trent Brown’s football career and life almost came to an end last year.
Luckily for the towering offensive tackle, though, he survived a scary situation in Cleveland that could have ended in tragedy.
While Brown battled his way back to full strength, he ran into some trouble earlier this season. But after overcoming a costly setback, the physically gifted lineman has a fantastic opportunity to make his second stint with the New England Patriots an unforgettable one.
Finally healthy and back in the starting lineup, Bill Belichick’s biggest offseason gamble can set himself up for another payday by taking care of business in the trenches down the stretch for a team that boasts legitimate Super Bowl potential.
Trent Brown nearly lost his life in a Cleveland hospital last year
Trent Brown nearly walked away from the game of football in 2020. And it had nothing to do with a declining skill set or lack of confidence in his abilities.
Rather, he contemplated retiring from the NFL after he faced a near-fatal experience.
The former Las Vegas Raiders lineman had to be taken to a Cleveland hospital last year due to a problem with a pre-game IV. During his Wednesday press conference, Brown revealed he nearly went into cardiac arrest.
“I almost died before we played them [Cleveland Browns] last year,” he told reporters. “When I was laid out on the floor, I definitely thought about my kids. I even thought about retiring, honestly. It was that scary. I was about to be done with it. Then after it kind of settled down a bit, I was fine.”
Brown said it took about eight months to feel normal again. But after defeating death and finding his way back to Foxborough, the 2015 seventh-round pick ran into a new hurdle.
After overcoming an early-season setback, the talented tackle can boost the Patriots’ championship chances and his bank account
Although he looked bound to make a big impact for the Patriots heading into the season, Brown encountered a problem almost immediately. He only played seven snaps in Week 1 before a calf injury forced him to leave the field.
Unfortunately for New England, that set the stage for major problems at the right tackle position. And even though Brown appeared in line to return for Tom Brady’s revenge game, the 28-year-old sustained a setback that prevented him from re-joining the team.
However, after weeks of speculation surrounding his future in Foxborough, the 6-foot-8, 380-pound tackle finally turned a corner and made his first appearance since Sept. 7. Despite missing so much time, the seventh-year pro showed almost zero rust against the Cleveland Browns, paving the way for Rhamondre Stevenson to rack up 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns and providing Mac Jones with a clean pocket and time to throw.
With a healthy, humble, and highly motivated version of Brown back at right tackle, the Patriots put together their most impressive offensive performance of the season. Moving forward, they have an opportunity to make strides in the passing game and on the ground given the presence of the powerful, road-grading lineman. Once viewed as unlikely to make the playoffs, New England looks poised to earn a Wild Card berth, or perhaps even a division title.
Getting Brown back not only benefits the team, but also the individual. As an impending free agent with perhaps only one last bite at the proverbial apple, he needs to stay healthy and produce at a high level to prove he deserves a multi-year contract. Considering he did exactly that in his first go-around with the Patriots, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Brown accomplish the feat again and further boost his nearly $48 million in career earnings.
After all, he’s performed at his best under Belichick, which bodes well for a New England team that’s rounding into form at exactly the right time.
New England’s offense looks capable of putting up big point totals thanks to improved play up front
How far the Patriots go this season rests largely on the offensive line’s ability to consistently keep the team’s rookie quarterback out of harm’s way. Plus, that unit must continue moving defenders out of the way for the dynamic running back tandem of Damien Harris and Stevenson.
Luckily for Belichick, a position group that faced some early challenges seems poised to dominate down the stretch. Brown and veteran guard Shaq Mason should form a fantastic duo on the right side. Team captain David Andrews should continue to serve as a key leader and steady presence at the pivot position. Ted Karras should continue to start at left guard thanks to his physicality. And if Isaiah Wynn plays up to his potential, he should quiet critics who have rightfully pointed out some of his struggles at left tackle.
Let’s not forget the Patriots also have Michael Onwenu on the roster, too. The 2020 sixth-round pick put together a rock-solid rookie campaign at right tackle, and he also has experience playing left guard. In terms of pure talent, he might be the best offensive lineman on the team. So, if Wynn becomes a problem on the blind side, New England could move Brown to left tackle and insert Onwenu back into the starting lineup.
Ultimately, the fact the Patriots possess six quality offensive linemen makes them incredibly dangerous moving forward. And with a defense that seems to get better every week, Bill Belichick has the pieces to compete for a championship.