Tuesday, February 21 is an important day on 2023’s NFL calendar: the beginning of the franchise tag window. From this day until 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time on Tuesday, March 7, each team is permitted to place a franchise tag on one (and only one) of its unrestricted free agents.
In 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs placed a non-exclusive franchise tag (the most common type of franchise tag) on their free agent left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. This allowed them to retain his rights for the season while they continued to negotiate a long-term contract with him. The two sides never agreed to a new deal before the July 15 deadline, so Brown played the season on a fully-guaranteed contract worth $16.7 million.
Many observers believe that Brown will be tagged again for the 2023 season. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the league and the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA), a 2023 non-exclusive franchise tag for an offensive lineman is worth $18.2 million. But the CBA also specifies that a tag must be at least 120% of the player’s salary in the previous year. This means that a non-exclusive franchise contract tender to Brown will be worth $20 million this season.
So if the Chiefs want Brown to be their left tackle for 2023 (and beyond), they will be motivated to negotiate a long-term deal with him before the new league year begins on March 15 — because a long-term contract is very likely to have a first-year cap hit well below the franchise tag’s $20 million. But if they can’t come to terms with Brown before then, applying the franchise tag to Brown will reduce the team’s cap space by the tag’s $20 million. For a team that currently has just $526,000 in cap space (with only 48 players under contract), that’s an important consideration.
Last week, head coach Andy Reid said that he expects general manager Brett Veach will try to keep both Brown and fellow offensive lineman Andrew Wylie (who is also an unrestricted free agent) with the team.
“Those guys obviously had good years for us,” said Reid. “All these contract things I haven’t gotten with Veach on at all; I kind of stay out of that world. But I think both guys are very well-liked here — and I’m sure that Brett will surely make a strong attempt [at] keeping them here. But we’ll see how that goes.”