There was optimism the Chiefs would soon have a contract with this potential franchise cornerstone. Instead, reports from sources close to the situation are pessimistic.
The Chiefs and their left tackle, Orlando Brown Jr., have been in the midst of contract negotiations since the team placed the Franchise Tag on Brown at the onset of this offseason. In that span, Brown has gone through a period without an agent and the Chiefs had to do their own in-house restructuring with some major trades and free-agent moves.
In all, moves by the organization and the waiting period for Brown to sign an agent halted negotiations for what has become very precious wasted time as the NFL’s deadline to extend tagged players — July 15 — fast approaches.
What’s next in the Brown saga and what’s the worst-case scenario?
As The Chiefs’ Extension Deadline Approaches, So Does The Risk
Once the July 15 deadline passes, the Chiefs will be unable to negotiate further with Orlando Brown until the next offseason. At this point, it seems as if Brown holds all the leverage in contract discussions. Without Brown, the team risks entering next season with a make-shift offensive line protecting the NFL’s most valuable asset.
Sure, there are options. Kansas City could move Joe Thuney to left tackle, a position he has exposure to, and replace him at left guard. Perhaps this would be an easier solution for the offensive line than looking at a potential left tackle replacement. However, the best performances that we saw from the offensive line last season included Brown at left tackle. Thuney was his normal outstanding self at the left guard position.
Brown already showed his hand earlier this offseason. In a quote on NFL Total Access, Brown alluded to the major additions by the AFC West ahead of next season. “It’s not the year to go into the season with a backup left tackle,” Brown said on NFL Network. His leverage lies entirely in the fact that the Chiefs really don’t have a better option at the tackle position and it’s too late in the offseason to find a truly effective backup plan. The Chiefs severely need to make a deal happen.
Where Contract Talks Currently Stand Between The Chiefs and OBJ
Despite optimism earlier this month that a deal could be reached, an update on Tuesday around the situation was much more pessimistic. Mike Garafolo, on NFL Total Access, discussed the situation between the Chiefs and their left tackle:
From @NFLTotalAccess: The #Chiefs and LT Orlando Brown are not close on a long-term deal with under three days left to do one. If no deal is reached before Friday, I wouldn’t expect Brown for the start of training camp and Week 1 isn’t a certainty, either. pic.twitter.com/XNT6CAwYKF — Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 12, 2022
“My understanding is that the offers to Orlando Brown, who wants to be paid at the top of the left tackle market, are more in line with the top of the right tackle market,” Garafolo mentions in the segment. “I’m not expecting Brown at Training Camp, and even Week One is in question.”
When comparing the two markets that Garafolo mentioned — the left-tackle and right-tackle markets — it’s important to put the difference in annual value into perspective. Currently, Trent Williams is the highest-paid left tackle at an average salary per year of just over $23 million. Ryan Ramczyk is currently the highest-paid right tackle at just over $19 million AAV.
If the Chiefs want to bridge the gap, I suspect they could lock up Brown somewhere near $22 million per year. The guaranteed money is likely where the team could help smooth things over if they wish to sign Brown long-term without setting a new record at left tackle compensation. We took a deeper look at a Brown extension earlier this offseason and it still makes a ton of sense. Ravens’ left tackle Ronnie Stanley remains the floor for a Brown extension with the Chiefs.
It makes total sense that Brown would like to surpass his counterpart in Baltimore after the team refused to allow him to stick at left tackle and traded him to Kansas City. A five-year, $107 million contract would put Brown ahead of Stanley’s contract but short of Trent Williams’ massive record-setting deal at the position. This would put brown at $21.4 million in average annual value, right in the middle of the right tackle and left tackle markets.
The Chiefs could further convince Brown to sign with added incentives and guarantees. Williams received $55.1 million in guarantees on his mega-contract and there’s little reason to think the Chiefs couldn’t exceed that in their offer to their left tackle of the future.
Whatever the end result with Brown, it will all be more clear, no matter what happens, on July 15 when the NFL’s deadline passes. For Kansas City’s sake, they’d certainly like more security as they enter the 2022 season.
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Will the Chiefs and Orlando Brown Jr. reach a contract extension before the July 15 deadline halts extension talks? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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