The Kansas City Chiefs and franchise left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension prior to Friday afternoon’s deadline. Brown was franchise-tagged earlier this offseason and Friday represented the last opportunity for a deal to be reached prior to the 2022 campaign. No such agreement was reached.
Brown could continue to serve as a distraction by holding out during training camp and into the regular season, but all reports indicate Brown will now play out the season on the one-year franchise tag, which will pay him approximately a fully-guaranteed $16.7 million. The situation is a lose-lose for all parties involved.
The Chiefs reportedly offered Brown a five-year contract worth $91 million, which would have made Brown the eighth-highest paid offensive tackle in the league at an annual rate of $18.2 million per season. That reported offer falls well short of what Trent Williams signed with the San Francisco 49ers and came nowhere near meeting Brown’s reported demands of $25 million annually. The offer allegedly contained a dummy sixth year at a salary of $40-plus million to inflate the average annual value, but the Chiefs had no intention of actually paying out that season. Based on what we’ve learned, it’s no surprise Brown’s representation was dissatisfied with the contract offer.
It will be interesting to monitor how Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach approaches the situation moving forward. It appeared the Chiefs had forfeited leverage in contract negotiations with Brown when they agreed to trade multiple draft selections, including a 2021 first-rounder, to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Brown’s services. That apparently hasn’t prevented Veach from sticking to his guns and playing hardball with Brown’s representation. The Chiefs didn’t immediately agree to an extension with Brown when they acquired him. Veach inherited that risk, and the ugly standoff remains ongoing.
All reported information indicates the Chiefs and Brown were nowhere near finding a resolution. Veach and the Chiefs could potentially franchise tag Brown for the second consecutive offseason in 2023. Based on current estimations from the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA), that would cost the Chiefs approximately $19.99 million. Based on Brown’s response to this year’s franchise tag, that occurrence would likely be met with additional hostility and potentially yet another offseason holdout.
The Chiefs would have been wise to approach Brown with an offer that would pay him roughly $20-22 million annually. Brown’s demands of $25-plus million annually were outrageous, but Kansas City’s reported offer of $18.2 million (in real money) feels like a serious lowball. Brown was outstanding throughout the 2021 campaign, immediately providing the desired upgrade to the left side of the Chiefs’ offensive line. Revamping the protection around franchise quarterback Patrick Mahomes was an offseason must following an embarrassing performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV.
Brown was one of four new starters on Kansas City’s new-look offensive line that also received immediate contributions from rookies Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith. Brown slotted into his dreamy blindside role on the left side and never looked back. Brown started 16 regular-season contests for the Chiefs in 2021, playing more than 1,000 snaps while showcasing a balanced skill set both in run blocking and pass protection.
Veach’s aggressive move to acquire Brown paid immediate dividends. When Kansas City’s offensive line appeared broken beyond repair on the biggest stage, Brown provided a solution. Veach deserves credit for solving Kansas City’s offensive line woes in one swift offseason. Veach is also correct to refuse to give into Brown’s alleged demands, but the Chiefs could have made a more valiant effort (and offer) to resolve the situation.
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