Why did we get the OBJ tag wrong?

Pretty much everyone expected the Chiefs to tag OBJ, and pretty much everyone got it wrong. Why? How did our thinking differ from that of Brett Veach and his crew?

1. "Everybody else does it." Groupthink is insanely powerful. In a copycat league, very few teams let quality left tackles go. They do whatever it takes to keep them. Who wouldn’t want to know they’ve got their QB’s blindside taken care of, especially when you’re protecting a superstar? Everyone wants security, and it looked like the Chiefs had it. But Veach is not a copycat. Veach is a pioneer, an innovator, and he may be seeing something the rest of the league has missed.

2. "But LT is probably the 2nd most important position in football." That’s true. Yet the Chiefs’ character and culture are even more important. When the Chiefs traded for OBJ, they believed he was a team-first guy who would be grateful to anyone who gave him a shot to play LT. They were wrong. Whether they were misled or OBJ changed (perhaps because of the "team" around him), OBJ has demonstrated being a me-first, money-first guy. He talks about being the best and resetting the market. He doesn’t talk about winning or building a legacy. OBJ gives the impression that he doesn’t care about the Chiefs or winning, or at least, he doesn’t care as much about them as he does about himself and his money. Mahomes is humble. Kelce is humble. Reid is humble. OBJ is NOT humble. They want to build a dynasty. He wants to build his bank account. He doesn’t fit the locker room. He’s a liability to unity and when you’re building a dynasty, unity trumps on-field performance.

3. "But OBJ is a Pro Bowl LT." He did get named to the Pro Bowl again this year, but how much of it was performance, and how much was just name recognition? It seemed like he was a PINO, Pro-bowler In Name Only. Anybody who watched the 1st half of the Chiefs’ season didn’t see a Pro Bowl LT. They didn’t even see an adequate LT. They definitely didn’t see a market-setting LT.

4. "But he got better in the 2nd half of the season." Did he? Or did the Chiefs help him by rolling protection to his side, giving him chips and double teams so he didn’t have to single-block a stud edge rusher? How many times did Mahomes "roll right" because OBJ couldn’t be trusted? How many times did he step up in the pocket because of blindside pressure? Mahomes was great at avoiding sacks when pressured. Sadly, that stat only works if he gets pressured a lot. It’s true OBJ didn’t give up many sacks, but he gave up a lot of pressures. How many times did Andy/EB call a quick throw because they knew OBJ couldn’t handle his man? How many plays were taken out of the game plan the 2nd half of the season and the playoffs because our "Pro Bowl LT" couldn’t do his job adequately?

5. "But aren’t the Chiefs in ‘win-now’ mode?" Yes… and no. Veach is in dynasty-building mode. Yes, he wants to win now. And he wants to win 5 years from now, and 10 years from now, and even 15 years from now. He’s not going to torpedo his legacy by going into "win-now" mode like the Bucs, Rams, Saints, and Eagles have all done. Tagging OBJ was a "win-now" move that would’ve forced the Chiefs to restructure 1 or more contracts pushing money into the future to get under the cap. Then they would’ve had to either rush negotiations or push even more money to be active in free agency. Now, they don’t have to worry about any of that. They have $17M in cap space, and they can negotiate with OBJ (or any other free agent) at their own pace. To build a dynasty, the Chiefs need a starting LT not just for 1 year but for years. Tagging OBJ only guarantees 1 year. The Chiefs need more than that.

6. "But didn’t the Chiefs lose control and leverage in negotiations by not using the tag?" Well, they lost control, but maybe not leverage. Because of the cap, with the tag OBJ had $20M in leverage to get a deal done (either a long-term contract with the Chiefs or a tag and trade with a prearranged long-term contract elsewhere). Let’s assume Veach & Co. did their homework calling other teams about a possible tag and trade. Minimum acceptable offer would’ve been a 3rd round pick based on expected compensatory pick if someone else signs him to a massive contract. What if no one offered that? Maybe OBJ’s market isn’t what we think because his tape isn’t all that great and his character is even worse. Maybe the Chiefs can offer him $20M/yr or less long-term without the tag and get the job done. Maybe someone goes beyond that and essentially guarantees the Chiefs get a 3rd round compensatory pick in 2024. Veach’s decision gives the Chiefs flexibility in free agency this year and moving forward. Looks like a long-term win to me.

7. "But there are no better options anywhere." It is possible that there are no better "blockers" available (Trent Williams, Laremy Tunsil and Jordan Mailata come to mind if their teams are open to a trade). However there are better teammates available, and I’d wager there are better "bargains" available. There are 4 guys already on the roster or under team control: Thuney, Niang, Kinnard, Wanogho. I have no problem with Thuney playing LT and finding someone else to take over at LG. I also would like to see one of Niang and/or Kinnard starting (at OT) given their college pedigrees, draft capital, and time to develop. And I’m happy if Wanogho surprises me and wins the spot. There are 8 guys in free agency: Lewan, Donovan Smith, Eric Fisher, Dillard, Fant, Pryor, J. James, J. Peters. They have concerns with age, health, ability, and as has already been discussed elsewhere regarding Lewan, bad pasts. Still, unless I’m missing something, they’ll all be cheaper than OBJ, and many if not all of them are going to be better teammates than OBJ. PFF has 10 OTs in its top 105: Skoronski, Paris Johnson, Anton Harrison, Broderick Jones, Dawand Jones, Bergeron, D. Wright, J. Duncan, Mauch, and Freeland. ESPN has 10 OTs in its top 102 swapping out Freeland for Jordan Morgan out of Arizona. Some of these might need some time to develop. Still it might be possible to have them compete with someone like Fisher or other guys already on the roster, and may the best man win.

I’m not a scout so I’m not going to get into the weeds of pros and cons on each of these players, but if the Chiefs help the new guy the way they helped OBJ, they don’t need a $20+M/yr "Pro-bowler" blocking Pat’s blindside. What I will say is Veach saw the long-term big picture while everyone else was looking at a tiny piece of the puzzle. He was being an innovator when everyone expected him to be a copycat. The Chiefs will be contending for a Super Bowl next year regardless of who plays LT. We have Mahomes. And Reid. And Kelce. And Jones. And Sneed. And Bolton. And lots of other really great young players. The road to Super Bowl LVIII runs through KC.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.