Why the KC Chiefs aren’t in a hurry to extend Orlando Brown

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) /

On the surface, Orlando Brown Jr. is in a contract year for the K.C. Chiefs. The reality, however, is that he’s a lock to be a long-term bookend for this team’s remade offensive front.

For many traded veterans, a new home often comes with a new contract, as the franchise welcoming him in wants to make sure and secure the new player’s services for years to come. The Chiefs did that when they dealt for defensive end Frank Clark. The Washington Football Team handed Alex Smith a four-year deal when they traded for him, and the San Francisco 49ers did the same for Dee Ford after acquiring him from the Chiefs two years ago. Some fans in Chiefs Kingdom wondered if K.C. would announce a long-term contractual agreement with Brown shortly after news of the trade broke.

However, the Chiefs seem to be floating along in a lazy river this offseason when it comes to extensions. Star safety Tyrann Mathieu is already in the queue waiting for a shiny new deal of his own, and now Brown is joining him. When will the Chiefs get things done? In due time, dear fan.

Explaining the Chiefs’ unhurried approach to extending Orlando Brown Jr.

In a press conference around the 2021 NFL Draft, general manager Brett Veach was asked about the lack of an extension for Brown when he said the following:

“We’ve got some different things we’re working through. We had great dialogue with him and his agent before the trade and if something got worked out, that’s great, but they were also content on playing it out and having us have some time to work through some other stuff and then getting to next offseason. As we all know, the cap situation will probably increase and there will be more flexibility. You can get more creative.

“Whether that be this year or next year, we have some time. I think the important thing is, for us, is that there was open dialogue and both parties understood that if it couldn’t get done, then we’d go into the season and try to knock it out.”

Specifically, when it comes to Brown, the Chiefs have all the leverage and that needs to be noted here. Brown is only due to count $3.38 million against the current salary cap. That low threshold is instrumental for the Chiefs this year, but they also have plenty of control going forward. Even if Brown lacks a deal a year from now, the Chiefs can apply the franchise tag and pay him millions less than what he would likely average in any new contract extension and retain him for another year. That takes the Chiefs and Brown through 2022, and Veach would have another year of the franchise tag to apply as well, if he so desired.

Basically the Chiefs could keep Brown playing on consecutive one-year offers for each of the next three seasons. That means that the team has plenty of time in which to assess Brown’s fit in Reid’s offense and/or make sure that they made the right move by trading their first-round pick (and then some) in the 2021 NFL Draft. If for some reason things unraveled entirely, the Chiefs could likely flip Brown rather easily to another team in need of a tackle to even recoup much of what they traded away in the first place.

Of course, this is all worst-case scenario stuff and we needn’t dwell on it long, except to note that the Chiefs have options even in the most dour circumstances. The likelihood, however, is that Brown becomes the sort of young mauler at left tackle that allows the team to make a leap forward in terms of protection. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler with elite play on both sides for a contending team as it is. He’s going to be 25-years-old this coming season, and he’s stated he’s ready to go to work for a franchise that should be a Super Bowl contender for as long as Brown wants to play. Even more, the Chiefs will want to reward him and keep him happy, rather than string him along—hence the reason they’re already discussing and working toward a long-term deal.

In short, the Chiefs are in no real hurry to make anything happen at this point but they don’t need to force anything. The team sits in an advantageous position in terms of financial control for the near future, yet both sides are wanting to maintain good will and a long-term relationship that benefits both going forward. There’s no rush but something will get done. It just might take some time to get there.

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