The Raiders made a big bet on Trent Brown in free agency, but Isaiah Wynn’s play in New England could make Oakland look really foolish.
Trent Brown managed to parlay one impressive season in New England into a mammoth free-agent contract with the Raiders this offseason. There’s no question that Brown will help upgrade Oakland’s offensive line, but there is a valid question about whether or not Jon Gruden and Co. overpaid for his services.
It cost the Raiders a four-year, $66 million deal to win the race for Brown, a record-setting sum for the position. Brown is still just 26 years old which means he should be squarely in his prime for the duration of his contract with Oakland.
Brown’s worth won’t simply be evaluated by how well he does or doesn’t play for the Raiders in 2019. The play of his replacement with the Patriots will be equally as instructive. New England recently got good news about the status of 2018 first-round pick, Isaiah Wynn. The former Georgia star is now expected to be a full participant in the team’s preseason programs after recovering from a torn ACL.
That should allow Wynn to move to left tackle and slide Joe Thuney back inside to left guard. Some franchises might exercise caution at handing a rookie playing time at left tackle, but the Patriots are blessed with one of the most accomplished offensive line coaches in the game. The presence of Dante Scarnecchia on New England’s sidelines has historically allowed his team to turn unheralded offensive lineman into unquestioned stars.
If that happens for Wynn during his first healthy season in the NFL, the Raiders’ decision to throw a ton of money at Brown is going to look pretty questionable. It could be a classic example of a team overpaying for a player who was propped up by the brilliance of the Patriots’ system and Scarnecchia’s coaching. Oakland wouldn’t be the first team to make that mistake, but they’ve possibly made one of the most expensive versions of the phenomenon.
Don’t expect the Raiders front office to ever admit they’ll be watching New England to see how the Brown transaction grades out, but it’s a data point they should consider very seriously. If Wynn plays well this season, it’s going to make the Brown contract look like a massive overpay.