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The Kansas City Chiefs are annually among the NFL’s best teams at addressing their issues.
Remember once upon a time when they wanted a quarterback upgrade to take them to a level much higher than merely winning their division every year? They drafted Patrick Mahomes in 2017.
Remember after their offensive line played like it was a turnstile in a Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a couple of seasons ago? The Chiefs remade their unit for 2021.
This offseason has been not much different although the problems have been more complex. A team with a superstar quarterback on his second contract and stars throughout the roster cannot just go out an buy the best talent to fill voids.
So the Chiefs this year have taken some steps backward — as in trading Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins — to be able to take other significant steps forward.
But amid an offseason in which Kansas City added receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and running back Ronald Jones, the biggest move of the offseason looms:
The Chiefs have to sign left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. to a long-term contract.
And this is the part of this column where you find out this is not going to be simple.
Because Orlando Brown Jr. wants to become the highest paid left tackle in the NFL, according to a league source. And there are some issues with that, not the least of which is quite fundamental.
“He’s still working to get an agent, is what he’s doing,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Thursday. “He’s interviewing these different people. Once he gets that taken care of, we’ll be able to roll. I know he’s working out down in Florida, so he is getting his workouts in.”
At least one of those agent interviews included the discussion of how to get a deal that would potentially make Brown the highest paid player at his position and get him the highest guaranteed money any tackle has gotten, the source told OutKick.
So what does that mean?
Well, the highest paid left tackle in the NFL right now is Trent Williams of the San Francisco 49ers. He signed a six-year deal worth in excess of $138 million that averages $23 million per season, according to overthecap.com. Williams got $45.1 million in guaranteed money.
Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari in 2020 signed a four-year extension worth $92 million that also averages $23 million per season, per overthecap.com. Bakhtiari got $30 million in guaranteed money.
And it should be noted when Ronnie Stanley signed his five-year extension with the Baltimore Ravens, he got $64 million in guaranteed money on a $98.75 million deal..
And while it is unknown exactly what ceiling Brown and his new agent will be hoping to reach when negotiations with the Chiefs begin, it’s obvious $25 million per season and higher will be in the conversation. And $50 million in guarantees won’t seem outrageous.
So a four-year, $100 million or five-year, $125 million deal could be the floor of what the Brown camp might eventually agree to.
The Chiefs this offseason placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Brown, meaning he’s currently costing them $16.6 million against their cap despite the fact the tender has not been signed.
The sides might eventually be able to work a deal that lowers that cap number considerably while also giving Brown that $100 million-plus deal.
But is he worth that?
It’s hard to argue he wouldn’t be. At age 26, Brown has his career’s prime years ahead of him and since being selected in the third round of the 2018 draft, Brown has earned three Pro Bowl selections, including last season with the Chiefs.
So whomever Orlando Brown’s next agent is, the contract for the player will be huge.
But while Brown is working out the details of actually starting negotiations with the Chiefs, he remains absent from the team’s offseason program and OTAs.
“That’s off-the-field stuff, that happens in every organization, every team, but I know he wants to be here,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “He wants to be a Kansas City Chief and he wants to be on that football field more than anybody.”
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