Orlando Brown trade potential is complicated by extension need

BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 01: Orlando Brown #78 of the Baltimore Ravens during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 1, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 01: Orlando Brown #78 of the Baltimore Ravens during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 1, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images) /

As the 2021 NFL Draft comes closer into view, 32 franchises are trying to figure out the best ways in which they can improve their rosters during the last great event of the offseason. With the best free agents already signed and several trades already culminated, the NFL Draft is the last premiere event of a long offseason in which more veterans will get dealt, rookies will be selected, and teams will be significantly re-shaped in order to hopefully better themselves for another run at a Super Bowl.

For the Baltimore Ravens, one of the primary considerations is not just about moving forward as an entire team but also how to deal with the affairs surrounding right tackle Orlando Brown. The 24-year-old tackle is one of the league’s best young linemen, but he’s also unhappy about his role on the team (and vocal about it). Instead of being a right tackle, Brown wants to play the left side—and get paid for it. And the Ravens simply aren’t in a position to meet his demands, given the presence of Ronnie Stanley.

Just over one month ago, NFL reporter Mike Garafolo reported that six teams were reportedly interested in trading for Orlando Brown. No official list was made of those teams, but it makes sense for the K.C. Chiefs to be on it given their current need at left tackle and their failed pursuit of Trent Williams in free agency already. That chase showed the team was willing to invest considerably in a change at left tackle, which is what will be needed for any team to pry away Brown from the Ravens.

For a team like the Chiefs, the potential idea of trading for Brown is complicated for more than one reason. While it’s one thing to chase Trent Williams with a giant check, it’s another to do the same for Brown, who will also require significant draft compensation for the Ravens for the sake of sending him away. Brown will cost the team draft assets and money, making him far more expensive than simply signing the best tackle in free agency. Think back to the cost of trading for Frank Clark versus simply signing a veteran pass rusher and you get the idea.

Peter King says any Orlando Brown trade is complicated by the fuzzy financial future of the NFL.

What’s even messier is the fact that the Ravens likely aren’t going to be too keen on trading Brown to the Chiefs in the first place. The need might be there and the Chiefs might even be willing to pay a significant price, but do the Ravens really want to help the Chiefs protect Patrick Mahomes? Their in-season goal is the opposite of that, so why make the sledding that much harder on themselves during the offseason?

In his most recent column for NBC Sports, Peter King wrote on Monday that Brown’s situation is made even more complex given the overall salary cap uncertainty moving forward. He wrote the following:

"The problem with Baltimore tackle Orlando Brown, who wants to be traded to a team who would play him at left tackle, may not be Baltimore agreeing on a fair trade. Although Brown has offered to play this season on the last year of his rookie deal ($3.38 million), he would soon need a new deal, and figuring that out in a time of such cap uncertainty could be a problem."

Basically any team trading for Brown will want some long-term guarantees worked out to know they’re not trading for a one-year rental. But can such a deal be worked out ahead of time with the question marks surrounding the financial fog of the near-future. The league didn’t even release this year’s cap ceiling until shortly before free agency was set to begin, and much of the financial hit taken by franchise owners in 2020 will be offset in coming seasons. That has to affect every team’s future plans, which could alter the ability to line up long-term financing for extending a player like Brown.

While all of this might seem problematic, the truth is that front offices are staffed with experts for this very reason. A contract might be complicated, but the Chiefs already handed out the most lucrative deal in sports just last season to Mahomes. They’ve pulled off this kind of sign-and-trade before, and it’s not as if the salary cap is going to wildly fluctuate. Some extensions have already been reached for future seasons, so why would it be any different than signing Joe Thuney long-term for the same amount of time as well?

There are hurdles to acquiring Brown, yes, but that was true even if the financial forecast were sunny and clear for the NFL. There are a lot of working parts and the Chiefs likely face quite a bit of competition for his services. But if they want Brown bad enough, the fuzzy math of the pandemic isn’t going to stop them.

Next. A multiple-choice mock draft for the Chiefs. dark