Orlando Brown Jr. would be prime free agent target in 2023

Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown (57)Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown (57)Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Kansas City Chiefs allow Orlando Brown Jr. to somehow hit free agency in 2023, he would be a prime free agent target.

It wasn’t so long ago that the Kansas City Chiefs and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. were both saying all the right things about their potential future together—specifically about their hopes to spend the next several years together thanks to a lucrative long-term contract extension. When it came down to it, however, an agreement couldn’t be reached and Brown was forced to play out the 2022 season on the franchise tag.

Now that Brown has ended his short holdout from training camp, both sides are saying the right things once again and talking up the idea of a long-term future beginning in 2023—when the NFL will allow both sides to discuss a negotiation once more. But will they be able to reach a new deal? If not, you can bet that other teams will be waiting in the wings for the chance to sign Brown as a free agent.

Brown recently made the top 10 of a list of prospective free agents for 2023 by Gregg Rosenthal over at the league’s official website. Such a list is littered with players who are unlikely to ever hit the open market, and Brown is one such candidate. However, nothing is set in stone in the NFL and the Chiefs and Brown have already proven that expectations will not always match reality.

The truth is that even if the Chiefs felt uncomfortable with Brown’s financial demands next offseason as well, they could still extend the franchise tag to him for a second consecutive season. Brown might hate it, knowing he would once again lack the long-term security he’s been seeking for years, but it’s still the right financial decision for the Chiefs since Brown would still be forced to play on what would be essentially a one-year deal worth approximately $20 million.

So even if a long-term deal is not reached, a second franchise tag remains the likely play for Kansas City in the face of failed negotiations. That means any team hoping for a chance to sign Brown as a free agent would be out of luck, but it does not mean they would be without options to acquire him. Perhaps a tag-and-trade scenario could come into effect for any team zeroed in on Brown for one reason for another.

Then again, the Chiefs have been vocal about their appreciation for Brown even in the face of failed contract negotiations and his holdout. Brown has also stated his intent to remain in K.C. Talk is cheap, but there’s very little chance Brown would ever hit free agency. That said, if he did, he’d be one of the marquee players available in 2023.

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