FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- As mammoth offensive tackle Trent Brown made his way up the steps to the field at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, it was an in-person reminder of a big part of Bill Belichick's offseason plan: Building more depth at offensive tackle.
Belichick's words from last November explain why.
"You want to have depth at every position, but those guys are hard to find. If you’re tackle-poor, I think that can show up a lot quicker than being poor at other positions," Belichick said. "Tackle, you can help them a little bit, but they’re single-blocking most of the game."
Enter Brown in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers. (Brown and a fifth-round pick were acquired for a third-round pick.)
Enter Isaiah Wynn with the team's top draft pick, No. 23 overall.
They are two of the biggest pieces of the Patriots' offseason, and if things go according to plan, they will help fill the void created by the free-agent departures of starting left tackle Nate Solder (Giants) and top swing tackle Cameron Fleming (Cowboys).
One of the biggest takeaways from Brown's chat with Patriots reporters Thursday is that he views himself as more than a right tackle, which is where 26 of his 28 NFL starts have come. Put him on the left side and he said he feels just as comfortable. He called himself an excellent pass-protector who gets after it in the run game.
"I’ve always played both sides," he said. "I started off playing college left. I played left in high school. I really started playing right when I got to the University of Florida. But switching sides has never been a real big issue for me."
Listed at 6-foot-8 and 355 pounds, Brown is part of the Patriots' insurance policy if Wynn isn't ready, or ultimately isn't the right fit, as Tom Brady's blindside protector.
Here is a projected depth chart:
RT: Marcus Cannon, Brown
The Patriots kept four offensive tackles last season and needed all of them, with Solder starting all 19 games (including playoffs), Fleming starting eight, Cannon seven and Waddle five.
Brown, who is scheduled to earn $1.9 million in the final year of his contract, is a roster lock this year alongside Wynn and Cannon, which means others on the depth chart project to be battling for one or two spots.
Whether it's on the left side or right, Brown is confident he'll contribute.
"I think I just know how to make it work wherever I’m at," he said. "It’s probably a good asset to have, being something like a chameleon. ... I’m just going to compete every day, and I trust the coaches to put me in the best position possible."