Patriots left tackle would 'love' to stay with team, but won’t commit to New England

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For the second year in a row, the New England Patriots could end up losing their starting left tackle to free agency. 

The trend started last year when tackle Nate Solder jumped ship and signed with the Giants after spending the first seven seasons of his career in New England. To replace Solder, the Patriots made two big moves. First, they used their first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn. On Day 2 of the draft, they sent a third-round pick to San Francisco in exchange for veteran tackle Trent Brown

The deal for Brown ended up being one of the most underrated moves of the offseason and that's because the former 49ers tackle ended up starting every single game the Patriots played in 2018, including their two playoff games and the Super Bowl

The problem for the Patriots is that they might end up losing Brown after just one season. In the deal with the 49ers, New England inherited Brown's rookie contract  and that contract will make him a free agent in March. 

So where will Brown end up in 2019? During an interview on Adam Schefter's podcast this week, Brown was asked where he'd like to end up and he gave a pretty vague answer. 

"Hopefully, it's somewhere where I can build some longevity, somewhere that will be a great place and a great fit schematically, in the locker room, on the field and also a great fit for my family as well," Brown said. 

When Schefter asked Brown if he would like to stay in New England, the 25-year-old said yes, but he didn't exactly commit to playing for them. 

"That's definitely something I would love, but hey, we're going to cross that bridge when we get there," Brown said. 

A big reason Solder left New England is because he wasn't willing to give the Patriots any sort discount and there was no way they were going to match any offer that paid him top dollar (He ended up signing a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants). This time around, the Patriots are facing a similar situation. 

Brown, who made just $1.9 million in 2018, likely isn't going to give the Patriots any sort of discount, especially because he plays a position that will be coveted in free agency. Not to mention, this will be the first time that Brown has been able to cash-in as a free agent, and based on what he said to Schefter, it sounds like he's going to go after every dollar. 

"Ever since I got drafted in the seventh round, I felt like that was definitely lower than expected, lower than I ever wanted to go, it all happened for a reason, but I felt disrespected by it," Brown said. "I've been waiting for this time for a long time now. I've been putting in the work, busting my ass. I took a week-and-a-half off and I'm already back to training."

The Patriots could hit Brown with the franchise tag, but that would mean paying him roughly $14 million in 2019, and if they weren't willing to tag Solder in 2018, it's unlikely they'd turn around and use the tag on Brown this year.  

The presence of Wynn is another reason Brown likely won't be able to get top dollar from the Patriots. The rookie offensive lineman didn't play a down in 2018 after tearing his Achilles in August, but with Wynn expected to return this season, the Patriots will likely be hoping they can slot him back in on the offensive line. 

If the Patriots do let Brown walk so they can pursue someone linemen, there are plenty of names available. If you click here, you can check out the 25 best offensive linemen who are about to become free agents. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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