On Wednesday, longtime NFL personnel man Gil Brandt published his ranking of the traded NFL players who will have the biggest impact in 2021. Behind Julio Jones — whom the Atlanta Falcons traded to the Tennessee Titans — Brandt picked new Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown.
2. Orlando Brown • OT • Kansas City Chiefs
Traded from: Baltimore Ravens
As surprising as it was to see the Chiefs to part ways with veteran left tackle Eric Fisher, Brown is poised to really impact Kansas City’s offense in a positive way. The 30-year-old Fisher missed nine games over the past two seasons, including — crucially — the Chiefs’ loss to Tampa in Super Bowl LV. Brown is younger (25) and has appeared in all 16 games in each of his three pro seasons thus far. Switching out Fisher for Brown also allowed for greater salary cap flexibility in the immediate future, given that Brown’s current cap figure for 2021 is $3.4 million, while cutting Fisher saved the team $11.96 million. Though he began his career as a standout right tackle in Baltimore, Brown has always wanted to play on the left side, and he got a taste while filling in for the injured Ronnie Stanley last season. Heading into the final year of his rookie deal, Brown should be motivated to prove he belongs there — and that he’s worth the kind of big-money extensions typically given to elite blindside protectors.
After Brown, Brant had two quarterbacks who are with new teams — Carson Wentz of the Indianapolis Colts and Matthew Stafford of the Los Angeles Rams — followed by former Las Vegas Raiders (and Chiefs) center Rodney Hudson.
OK, I’ll admit it: Julio Jones could have a spectacular season playing for the Titans. Brandt’s argument is compelling: that Jones could easily surpass Corey Davis — and then in concert with A.J. Brown, turn Ryan Tannehill into a deep passing threat. But for that to happen, Jones must stay healthy in 2021. For a 32-year-old NFL wideout, that’s easier said than done. So we’ll see.
If he can, then his presence in Nashville will likely be more impactful than Brown’s in Kansas City. But if not, it’s indeed possible that we’ll see Brown as the biggest trade of this offseason. If so, it will be because he was anchoring an offensive line that made a spectacular turnaround from a Super Bowl LV weakness to a 2021 force — one that could take Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire) to the next level.
To be sure, there is plenty of uncertainty about how the line will shake out. But if you’re a Chiefs fan who isn’t excited about its potential for 2021 and beyond, here’s your wake-up call: for the first time since head coach Andy Reid’s arrival, the Kansas City offensive line could be special.