New Bengals tackle on protecting QB: ‘That’s what I do best’

Credit: Peter Joneleit

Credit: Peter Joneleit

Trent Brown said his decision to sign with the Cincinnati Bengals was about as smooth of a process as he could have hoped.

The former New England Patriots offensive tackle learned of the team’s interest Sunday through his agent. That led to conversations with Bengals coach Zac Taylor and offensive line coach Frank Pollack, and by Monday night, he had arrived in Cincinnati.

During a visit Tuesday, Brown signed a one-year contract with the Bengals. He replaces right tackle Jonah Williams, who signed with the Arizona Cardinals in free agency.

“I got here late last night, everything went well this morning and I guess that’s about as smooth as you could say - fly in, everything go well and sign on the dotted line,” Brown said via a Zoom press conference. “… Just the pieces that are already in place, I feel like it’s a plug and play situation, and the chance to go win.”

Brown brings with him nine seasons of NFL experience, including 100 career games with 93 starts. A seventh-round draft pick by San Francisco in 2015, he played his first three seasons with the 49ers, then spent time with New England (2018, 2021-23) and the Raiders (2019-2020).

The 6-foot-8, 370-pound lineman joins left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. as the book ends of the offensive line protecting franchise quarterback Joe Burrow. Cincinnati signed Orlando Brown, who is 6-foot-8, 345 pounds, last offseason, but now Trent Brown’s arrival beefs up the right side.

Trent Brown likes that Burrow gives him a chance to be a part of a winning team.

“It means a lot,” Brown said. “It’s a little added motivation to do your job and keep him upright because you know he can make special things happen.”

Brown said Taylor and Pollack conveyed their belief in him and said they “feel like this is what was missing” to help get the Bengals “over the top.” He didn’t have any preference over playing on the right or left side when he started the free agency process last week, and Cincinnati made clear he would be the starting right tackle.

The Bengals are getting one of the best pass-blocking tackles in 1-on-1 situations.

As the Patriots’ left tackle last year, Brown found himself in 1-on-1 situations on 88.3% of his pass blocking snaps, which was the highest rate among left tackles (minimum 300 pass blocking snaps), according to Next Gen Stats. Brown allowed pressure on just 7.1% of those snaps, the second-lowest rate among left tackles.

“I’m very comfortable doing that,” Brown said. “That’s what I do best. I think that’s why I’m here. And like you say, you won’t find another tackle in the league or in the game of football today that does that better than me. I have a unique set of skills and being able to play both sides that way. And credit to God and my parents for that.”

As Brown approaches age 31, his production level could come into question, but he posted the best Pro Football Focus offensive grade of his career last season with a struggling New England team.

When asked what he hopes to do to get back to his Pro Bowl level of 2019, Brown indicated that coming to an environment like Cincinnati’s, he won’t have off-the-field things to worry about like he did the last couple years. Pressed further on that, Brown said he didn’t want to talk about the past.

“Really, I mean, I feel like I’ll be worried less and be able to worry about playing football,” Brown said. “I won’t have to worry about any off-the-field things, and I’ll be able to just enjoy coming to work on a day-to-day basis. And that was important as well when we talk about fit.”

Brown had reached out to former Patriots teammate and current Bengals center Ted Karras before arriving in Cincinnati for his visit. They played together in 2018 and 2021, and Karras only had good things to say about his experience in two seasons with the Bengals so far.

Karras also was at Paycor Stadium on Tuesday morning when Brown arrived, which was another encouraging sign to Brown that he would be coming to a place where his teammates want to work.

“He said he loved it here,” Brown said. “This is a great organization. It’s like a family over here. I walked in the building this morning, and he was in the hot tub getting ready to work out. That even added to it, him being here on March 19 and the offseason program doesn’t start for another month almost. That was a huge thing right there, just being where we came from where people would get out of there for a release any chance we had.”

Brown said he is glad he was “patient enough to wait on the right fit.” The NFL tampering period started eight days before he ended up signing, and he feels comfortable with his decision.

“I think I’ve earned enough over the course of my career to have it be that way,” Brown said. “The right fit came along and here we are.”

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