So you’ve had the weekend to digest the latest big-time trade from Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach: he sent the 31st overall pick, a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a 2022 fifth-rounder for the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. — while also receiving a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 sixth-round selection.
On this deal, I think the Chiefs hit it out of the park in multiple ways. I’ll break down why you should be excited about the newest Chief — and I’ll start by letting Brown tell you himself:
1. Left tackle is cemented for the short-term — and likely, the long-term
The most surface-level reason to be excited about Brown is the simple fact that the Chiefs’ starting left tackle will be an experienced, Pro Bowl-level player rather than a past-his-prime veteran or a first-time starter. We all remember the early parts of the 2019 season when the absence of Eric Fisher led to the destruction of Patrick Mahomes’ ankle. You can’t have subpar protection of your organization’s most valuable asset — and the Chiefs have now made a move to avoid that.
Brown excelled early in his career at right tackle — but because of an injury midway through 2020, switched to left tackle. Per PFF, in the 11 games he played as a full-time left tackle — 704 total snaps — he did not allow a sack or quarterback hit. He’s also recognized as a force in the running game; he may be known for his historically bad combine numbers, but he has quick feet to the second-level of the defense — and in the Ravens’ offensive scheme, he was trusted to pull.
For the Chiefs, he’ll instantly become a force at left tackle — and with him turning 25 years old in early May, he could be that force for a long time. Mahomes and Brown will be entering their athletic primes together.
2. The second-round pick received in return is crucial
If you’re like me, you might be getting tired of the Chiefs not having a first-round pick. I’m not complaining — it’s worked out pretty well — but the Chiefs have not picked on the opening day of the draft in three of the last five years. This year will now be the fourth time in six drafts.
It will make Thursday night boring for us — but for Veach, it’s been a smart strategy. In his Friday presser, he stated that there were “17-18 players that could immediately start” from this year’s draft pool. Later, he commented on the “hot zones” of the draft being in the second or third rounds. If you aren’t getting a first-round caliber player at pick 31, is it that much more valuable than a pick 20 selections later, where the player taken could be of a similar talent?
With the return of the Ravens’ second-round selection, the overall pick value basically evens out — nearly making this a direct trade of the 31st pick for Brown. With the way the offensive tackle class is shaking out, the Chiefs realized that no prospect picked at 31 would have the floor (or ceiling) that they already know Brown possesses.
3. The contract situation is actually favorable to the Chiefs
At first, I questioned whether it was wise for the Chiefs to trade for Brown without a contract extension in place, which would give him all the leverage in an eventual negotiation. The Chiefs just gave up a first-round pick for Brown. who has one year remaining on his rookie contract. It would be foolish to allow him to walk in free agency for nothing in return, right? In theory, Brown could play hardball with his salary demands.
He’ll play in 2021 at a $3.3 million cap hit, becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2022 — unless the Chiefs place the franchise tag on him. The projected franchise tag salary for an offensive tackle next year is currently $16.5 million, which will still be below top-shelf offensive tackle money; Trent Williams received $23 million per year from the San Francisco 49ers.
The Chiefs could even tag him again after 2022, but there should be good reason to have a long-term deal done by 2023. Kansas City has acquired two seasons of top-tier left tackle play at a discount — while also allowing them to decide if his play will merit a big deal.
4. Lucas Niang and Mike Remmers can focus on right tackle
No one has a good taste in their mouths about how Remmers performs at left tackle. After being a capable starter on the right edge all season, he did not hold up the left edge in Super Bowl LV. In the same vein, 2020 draft pick Lucas Niang was a right tackle when playing at his best in college. Now, there’s no reason for him to transition to the left side; he can focus on becoming the best right tackle he can be.
As it stands now, I’d assume Martinas Rankin is the direct backup to Brown. There are worse backup situations to be in than that.
5. The Ravens are now looking for a new right tackle
Brown filled in at left tackle for Ronnie Stanley — who dislocated his ankle but will now go back to protecting quarterback Lamar Jackson’s blind side. Now, Baltimore is searching free agency for a replacement right tackle. They’ve had a visit with former Pittsburgh Steeler Alejandro Villanueva and also with former Tennessee Titan Dennis Kelly.
So instead of having one of the league’s best offensive tackle duos, the Ravens will be patching up their line — while covering the Chiefs’ single-biggest need. This was a move that will directly impact the AFC playoff picture in 2021 — and not in a way that is favorable to any team except the Chiefs.