The Patriots’ Long Offensive Line Nightmare Is Over, With Trent Brown Staying In New England – CBS Boston

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Over-the-top reactions and hair-igniting panic regarding the state of the New England offensive line have officially been put to bed. They were one week old.

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While some overall concern for the Patriots’ free-agent activity — or lack thereof — has been more than valid, the stressing over the offensive line pushed the boundaries of credulity on a number of levels. Ted Karras is a fine young man and a solid interior lineman, sure. But if a team can’t find a replacement for a replacement, then that team probably isn’t worth talking about to begin with.

Yet when Karras was quickly scooped up by the Bengals, who are absolutely desperate to rebuild their O-line in front of the Josephs Burrow and Mixon, Patriots fans and media showed concern. That worry was doubled — nay, tripled — when the Patriots traded right guard Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in a move made to clear salary cap space. And the fretting was sent into another dimension when Trent Brown was out and about as a free agent, making a visit to the Seahawks, potentially leaving the Patriots without three of their starters on the offensive line.

Alas, as tends to happen, patience won out.

At tackle, Brown is back. It’s a significant signing. Replacing a tackle isn’t easy, and the Patriots don’t have to worry about that at either spot. Brown isn’t the best tackle in the league, but he’s enormous, he’s experienced, he’s good in the run game and the pass game, and he’s coming off his best-graded season by PFF.

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Had Brown actually departed to play elsewhere? Then some of that mania would have been well-founded.

But he returned. Mike Onwenu can fill in one of the vacated guard spots. He may be a better tackle than a guard, but entering year three, he’s more than ready to occupy the spot where he started last season. And from there, if there’s any single position that you should never worry about Bill Belichick finding a capable player to fill, it’s guard. He’s done that with accomplished football players and former wrestlers alike. The converted tuba player didn’t quite work out, but the record of guards succeeding in Foxboro is a long one.

Whether that get done with a player on the roster — like James Ferentz, or Justin Herron, or William Sherman, or someone else — or whether it’s with a player in the draft, plugging in a more-than-capable guard has happened plenty of times during the Belichick era. The Patriots’ roster maestro gets the benefit of the doubt on this one.

The Patriots may not have the best offensive line in the league last year, but it was plenty potent enough to power the league’s eighth-ranked rushing offense that scored the second-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL. They also allowed the third-fewest sacks in the league.

MORE NEWS: Report: Trent Brown Returning To Patriots On Two-Year Deal

Had Brown signed elsewhere, thus leaving the Patriots with three major holes, then the panic would have paid off. But he’s back, and there are two capable people — Onwenu and Belichick — to fill the remaining spots. The re-signing of Brown won’t register on the splash scale of some of the other moves around the league during free agency. It may not even warrant a mention on this evening’s SportsCenter. But make no mistake: This move on a Monday morning will be looked back on as a significant moment in the Patriots’ offseason.

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