The Kansas City Chiefs have come to a decision when it comes to whether or not to tag starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. According to several reports — including one from ESPN's Jeremy Fowler — they have chosen not to do so.
In a surprise twist, the Chiefs will not be franchise tagging left tackle Orlando Brown, per source. He’s set to be a free agent March 13. The player has been notified.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 6, 2023
Brown, 26, came to the Chiefs via trade with the Baltimore Ravens during the leadup to the 2021 NFL Draft. Brown played out the final year of his rookie contract with the Chiefs in 2021. Kansas City then franchise-tagged him for the 2022 season. The initial franchise tag cost the team $16.67 million against the salary cap.
The league's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) states that a second consecutive tag must provide 120% of the previous season's salary, so Brown's tag for 2023 would have cost the Chiefs around $20 million.
Kansas City had until March 7 to franchise tag Brown. By forgoing the option to do so, the Chiefs now have until the start of the new league year (March 15 at 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time) to come to terms on a new contract with Brown, or he will become an unrestricted free agent, available to sign with any club. It's likely Brown's departure — if it comes to that — would net the Chiefs a third-round compensatory draft pick.
Chiefs' decision to not tag Orlando Brown came down to, I'm told, their desire to lock in a long-term LT this offseason. Tagging Brown doesn't do it. It'd basically guarantee he's free in '24, make it harder to do a deal (bc of the $20M number) now.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 6, 2023
They'll look at all options.
The expectation — even as of Sunday — was that the Chiefs would tag Brown, which would have provided them the opportunity to negotiate exclusively with him through the summer.
The surprise decision by general manager Brett Veach changes the situation entirely. It appears Brown will have a chance to explore the open market. Should he get an offer, the Chiefs could try matching his best one, or it is likely he will continue his career elsewhere.
Brown started all 17 regular-season and three playoff games for the Chiefs in their Super Bowl LVII championship season, making his fourth straight Pro Bowl in the process. Pro Football Focus named Brown its 10th-best free agent, citing the solid second half of his 2022 campaign.
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