Orlando Brown’s contract extension will be based on potential not present

Orlando Brown, Chad Henne, Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Brown, Chad Henne, Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s important to remember that any contract extension given to Orlando Brown Jr. by the Kansas City Chiefs is based on potential.

There is a throughline of doubt cast upon any and all conversations (it seems) happening between fans in Chiefs Kingdom about the looming contract extension likely to be given to left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. While most fans were into the idea of locking up Brown to a long-term deal, the news that he wants to be the NFL’s highest-paid left tackle has left some fans frustrated and even disinterested in such a deal.

In a day and age where young players set a new market high with every big-time extension, it does sound troubling for one player to want to occupy so much of a team’s salary cap. The Chiefs were forced to send Tyreek Hill packing this spring to the Miami Dolphins when it was clear his $30M annual hopes were going to hamstring the organization at other positions.

The idea that Brown wants to be paid like the best would likely go down a bit smoother if Brown had elevated his game considerably with the Chiefs while protecting Patrick Mahomes in his first season with the Chiefs. That said, Brown had noticeable hiccups along the way as he learned how to operate with a new quarterback, new teammates up front, a new coaching staff, and a new playbook.

Brown’s agent has all of the leverage he needs to demand the deal. Brown is young, has been to three straight Pro Bowls, is by far the best option available on the market, and the Chiefs are already heavily invested in keeping him around. All of this can make fans feel a bit frustrated knowing Brown is going to make so much.

But here’s the important note for the Chiefs’ front office (and for fans to know): The Chiefs aren’t rewarding Brown for a job well done until now. They’re paying him for the way they believe he will play for the next few seasons.

Brown’s potential new mega-contract is all about potential instead of present production. That’s not to say he hasn’t given the Chiefs solid production to date, but any contract is all about later since the past is the past. Any team paying for someone’s legacy is a team ready to make major changes in leadership, and that’s definitely not the Chiefs.

Back to Brown’s youth for an instant. The fifth-year lineman just turned 26-years-old this month and has never missed a single game in his NFL career. Locking him up for, let’s say, the next five seasons takes him through age 30. That seems a solid bet for a durable player to continue getting better and more comfortable (meaning instincts can truly take over) at a new position for a new team with new faces all around.

Looking at Brown’s body of work and declaring he’s not worth such a lucrative deal is thinking backward about what the contract is rewarding. Brown is young and already quite excellent and there are far more reasons to believe he can continue to get better in years to come than not. That’s what the Chiefs are paying for and that’s what makes it the right move.

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