NFL reporter Gregg Rosenthal is likely just as excited as the rest of us for the 2021 regular season, but he recently took a look ahead to the free agent market of 2022 to see which players are going to be very motivated in the coming months.
The K.C. Chiefs have two of the top seven players on Rosenthal’s board as potential free agents—although the idea of either player truly being available feels like a long shot.
Both safety Tyrann Mathieu and left tackle Orlando Brown, Jr. are listed among Rosenthal’s top seven players scheduled to be free agents in 2022 at this point, and technically they fit the bill. Both players are entering the final year of their respective deals, with Brown wrapping up his rookie deal that he received from the Baltimore Ravens and Mathieu playing the third and final season of his free-agent deal he signed back in 2019.
Tyrann Mathieu, Orlando Brown Jr among biggest free agents-to-be for 2022.
If either player were to actually hit the open market, each would undoubtedly set a new high mark financially speaking at the position, but despite the high prices to come, the Chiefs are unlikely to allow that to happen.
The Chiefs have been very, very vocal about their desire to bring back Mathieu on a new contract extension, with general manager Brett Veach stating that it’s the present financial picture that makes things sticky for K.C. right now. Essentially, his public message was for Mathieu to stay patient and he would be rewarded.
Mathieu has been nothing less than the defensive MVP for a Super Bowl contending team since his arrival in 2019. His versatility allows Steve Spagnuolo to be creative in his role as defensive coordinator, and his intelligence and instincts elevate the play of everyone around him as the heart and soul of the secondary. Losing Mathieu to another team next season would create a major vacuum, both on the field and in the locker room.
As for Brown, the Chiefs just invested a first-round pick in acquiring him from the Ravens, so it seems outrageous to consider that he’d be a one-and-done sort of investment. Unless the Chiefs are just disgusted with what they see from him in Andy Reid’s offense, Brown is likely to be a pillar on the left side for the next half-decade. Whether or not a deal is worked out beforehand or not, the Chiefs could easily retain him with the franchise tag as well.
Rosenthal is right that Mathieu and Brown are, by definition, going to be free agents in 2022 given their present circumstances. But there’s no way the Chiefs are going to allow either player to leave for another team next March unless the narrative around one of them changes considerably due to poor play or injury. For now, Rosenthal’s list is a wish list more than anything else.