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Florida’s Trent Brown set to sign with Raiders, become NFL’s highest-paid OL ever

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The man once motioned wide on a screen in The Swamp is going to get P-A-I-D.

Super Bowl LIII - New England Patriots v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

You may note that we do not always write up things about Florida Gators who have made the professional ranks as athletes. This is largely because there are so damn many of them that it is legitimately hard to keep them all straight.

But we’re writing about Trent Brown today, because Trent Brown is about to get paid. Like, paid better than any offensive lineman in NFL history to date.

After working his way from a seventh-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers into serving as a starter for the team, Brown spent last year with the New England Patriots as the protector of Tom Brady’s blind side. And, given that he was acquired for so very little, the colossal Brown turning out to be an effective pass protector and a road-grader in the running game on the Patriots’ latest Super Bowl run makes that deal one of the best trades in recent NFL history.

Now, capitalizing on his free agency, youth (Brown turns just 26 in April) and the continual shortage of good tackles, Brown is going to be one of the NFL’s best-compensated players, whether or not he is one of its best. And given that there’s plenty of reason to believe he may regress, from a belief in regression as a concept to the general difficulty of going from the well-run Patriots to the, uh, interestingly-run Raiders and the specific challenge of leaving the orbit of all-everything Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia and entering the domain of much-maligned Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable, it is great for Brown that he is getting beaucoup bucks to almost certainly be called overrated in two years.

Brown has worked very hard since his Florida days, when he was usually referred to as Trenton Brown and was largely an afterthought on an offensive line that wasn’t very good in 2013 and 2014, never quite finding a consistent starting role after starting his collegiate career at Georgia Military College and then committing to the Gators as a JUCO prospect. Brown made six starts in 2014 and five in 2013, despite injuries on the line in both years, and was never seen as Florida’s best lineman during his time in Gainesville.

Yet Brown has both lost some weight and refined his technique as a pro, and in so doing has become he best version of the massive tackle anyone with functional eyes saw he could be, given his surprising athleticism and enormous frame. He was a crucial part of this Patriots season, and was widely considered one of the NFL’s most coveted free agents this offseason.

Still, it’s a trip to know that a man once motioned out wide by Brent Pease on what could have been the most hilarious screen pass in football history is now going to be one of the NFL’s best-compensated players.

Congratulations, big man. You earned these big checks.