No one should be worried about the lack of a contract extension for Orlando Brown Jr. from the Kansas City Chiefs yet.
It’s in the void of the offseason, a time such as this, that makes it easy to fill it with doubt, dread, or a general drift toward negative news. It happens outside of sports in every facet of life for most of us except the most fervent optimists, and within the NFL, it’s easy for a fan base to start to question a team’s resolve in one matter or another.
Take, for instance, the expected contract extension between left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and the Kansas City Chiefs. As far back as last spring, the Chiefs knew they’d have to confront the contractual situation with Brown sooner than later since they’d traded for him shortly before a contract year. If that wasn’t obvious enough, then they could take his own statements—then with the Baltimore Ravens—at face value that he desired a long-term deal and he wanted to do so as a left tackle.
The Chiefs allowed Brown to play out his rookie deal without a long-term offer, but they’ve played nice all along, saying the right things and stating that they plan to get things done. Coming into this offseason, however, they utilized the franchise tag on Brown to maintain control for another year at a fixed cost of $16.6 million. Team officials spoke positively of a future extension, but the only action through the first few months of the offseason is the tag placement.
Earlier this week, Brown was a no-show for the first of three mid-week sessions at Arrowhead involving workouts, study sessions, positional drills, and the general chance to get to know your teammates. As the first part of phase three closed, reporters asked the team about Brown’s absence. On Thursday, head coach Andy Reid spoke and said Brown is working out on his own and that any perceived issues in contract negotiations are up to Brown. He actually needs to hire representation in order for talks to move forward, and that’s something he has not done yet.
When there’s a lull in the headlines, fans can begin to make up their own. Without answers, questions surface. It’s not long before a section of Chiefs Kingdom begins to wonder if perhaps there’s something awry in the negotiations, some hidden snag that no one will publicly discuss.
Let’s also be clear: it’s not as if some fans who question the process are just making up random things. The truth is that contract negotiations are often sticky, and the Chiefs are no stranger to talks turning ugly. Justin Houston and Chris Jones both created some drama before signing long-term. The Chiefs said all the right things publicly about Tyrann Mathieu only to never offer him a single deal. If a fan wants to distrust Veach and “believe it when he sees it,” who can blame him?
That said, the Chiefs have very little wiggle room here. They have the franchise tag as leverage, and that’s nice and all, but they’ve already learned the tough lesson about how difficult it is to find a franchise left tackle. They chased Trent Williams. They paid handsomely for Brown in the first place. On the roster, the best options are Lucas Niang and Geron Christian as Patrick Mahomes’ blindside protector if they moved on, and the Chiefs will be picking at the bottom of every round for the foreseeable future.
When it comes to Brown, you can take the team at its word that the parties involved will get something done. There’s still plenty of runway this offseason to get something finished, and the news will come soon enough.