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Raiders hoping Trent Brown lives up to massive paycheck

NAPA, Calif.

It’s not the worst sports logo — remember the disaster UNLV athletics unveiled in 2017? — but more important than initials and a jersey number is the message behind it.

TB77.

Greatest Underdog.

Trent Brown continues to use such a moniker as motivation for his NFL career, and who in the world would question him? I understand the living were able to emerge victorious in the Battle of Winterfell thanks to Arya Stark and her Valyrian steel dagger, but things might have been made easier had Brown also been fighting alongside Jon Snow and the gang.

Brown is listed at 6-foot-8, 380 pounds, and the only thing more massive than the new Raiders offensive tackle is his bank account.

In April 2018, the 49ers pretty much gifted Brown to the Patriots as part of a draft-day swap of picks, the 143rd for the 95th. Not real sexy stuff.

Now, he owns a Super Bowl ring and is the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history.

Greatest Underdog got his.

“I didn’t think our tackles could get bigger,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “When he walks into a room, he has to duck under every doorway. Usually, you see a big guy like that and they’re not as quick, they don’t have that burst, but man, he has such a burst. He’s a Super Bowl champ. He played left tackle as a Super Bowl champ. That’s pretty impressive.”

If you’re wondering why Carr is so excited about the arrival of Brown — who will switch back from the left side to the right — remember only that the quarterback was sacked a career-high 51 times last season, that he was put on his back nearly 8.5 percent of those times he dropped back, that things collapsed around him weekly like a pop-up tent.

So the hope becomes that the guy who helped protect Tom Brady last year all the way to another championship will now hold down one side opposite second-year left tackle Kolton Miller, that while Brown has yet to make a Pro Bowl in four seasons and several eyebrows were raised across the league when the Raiders gave him a four-year, $66 million contract ($36.75 million guaranteed), he plays up to those dollar figures.

“I just feel like I’ve been put on the back burner my whole life,” said Brown, a seventh-round draft pick by San Francisco out of Florida in 2015. “And even through the process, there are people who try to dim my light.

“Greatest Underdog. I was drafted in the seventh round and now I’m the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history. You know, that’s a testament to the work. … I feel like people think I’ll get the money and then just become lazy, but I want another huge contract. I want more rings. I want more of everything. I’m thirsty for it.”

There are few more respected opinions when it comes to who ranks as the league’s best offensive linemen than Von Miller, particularly because of how much havoc the Denver star rusher creates for those trying to block him.

Miller has for a while now proclaimed the 26-year-old Brown the NFL’s best right tackle, the former having worked two of Miller’s three Pass Rush Summits, the last one in June at UNLV.

Some of the NFL’s brightest pass rushers annually showcase their skills in one setting over the summer and Brown has been among those working opposite them.

Is Belichick dead?

He walks and talks with a bit of swagger, not surprising given Brown’s last stop and the rewards that came from it. Everywhere he looks now, sponges stare back, new teammates wondering what it was like to block for Tom Brady and play for Bill Belichick and how the duo might compare to Carr and Raiders coach Jon Gruden.

“We’re trying to get the culture here to match theirs and hopefully take it to another level,” Brown said. “You can just feel it (in New England). The energy when you walk in the building. They expect greatness and you got to do great things, and that’s why they’re in the Super Bowl year in and year out.

“Tom is the ‘G.O.A.T.’ Derek Carr is Derek Carr. If anybody gets the opportunity to be upright and healthy in this league, you can make plays and that’s what we’re trying to do up front. … Gruden is a lot more alive and Belichick is, I mean, yeah, Belichick.”

Which sort of confirms what most have believed for some time, that one of the greatest coaches in team sports history is really a White Walker in a hoodie.

He sure was good, though, for the Greatest Underdog’s wallet.

More Raiders: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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