Raiders' Offensive Line Will Be Changed by Trent Brown

The Raiders’ signing of offensive tackle Trent Brown as a free agent this week is likely to mean a farewell to Donald Penn.

Penn, 35, has played the past five seasons in Oakland and was twice selected to the Pro Bowl when he was the anchor of the offensive line at left tackle.

But Penn was switched to right tackle in 2018 to make way for No. 1 pick Kolton Miller on the left side, and then suffered an injury-shortened season. Penn is due to make more than $7 million in 2019, but could eventually be released to save almost $5 million of that against the salary cap.

And, as Paul Gutierrez of noted this week, Penn — with his age, salary and injury woes the last couple of seasons — really doesn’t have much prospect of playing anymore with Brown, Miller and 2018 rookie Brandon Parker, who stepped in for Penn at right tackle after Penn was injured. Parker and Miller both struggled at times, but Miller was injured and has the potential to improve significantly in his second season if healthy.

The question is, where will Brown and Miller play in 2019?

The Raiders have given Brown a four-year deal for as much as $66 million, the kind of contract given to an elite tackle to protect quarterback Derek Carr’s blind side. It seems likely that Brown could start on the left side, with Miller moving to the right.

Center Rodney Hudson is set in the middle of the line, but the guard spots are now uncertain, too, with the trade of left guard Kelechi Osemele this week and the free-agent departure of his backup, Jon Feliciano. Right guard Gabe Jackson could stay put, or move back to the left side, where he played well to begin his NFL career. That still leaves a hole for another guard to be added, either through free agency or the draft.

As Gutierrez writes, the addition of Brown and trade of Osemele signals “a sea change for what had been one of the best and most dominant” offensive lines in the NFL just three seasons ago.

Brown, a former 49ers’ seventh-round pick, had a tremendous season with the Super Bowl Patriots in 2018, allowing just three sacks in 744 pass-blocking snaps in the regular season. In the postseason, he didn’t allow Tom Brady to be sacked even once.

Though Brown — a 6-foot-8, 380-pounder — has had only one outstanding season, his one-year stint in New England after being sent away by the 49ers a year ago, Brown believes he’s shown he can be among the best tackles in the NFL.

“I’m an athlete with a huge grame, and I can move just as well as a guy who’s 6-3, 320,” Brown said recently. “And I move a lot better than those guys in some cases – most cases, I’d say.”

The Raiders will soon find out if that’s true. They’re betting it is.

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