The Kansas City Chiefs and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. were before the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players. From here, Brown can earn $16.7 million on the franchise tag if he signs it, which he has yet to do.
Since the 26-year-old isn’t subject to fines for skipping out on the club’s offseason activities, minicamp, and even training camp, it appears Brown is going to use his leverage, as he will not report when Kansas City opens camp, according to NFL Network. The report comes shortly after Chiefs coach Andy Reid addressed the status of Brown, who is entering his second year with the team.
“I don’t know that. I don’t know whether he’s going to be here or not,” Reid said when asked his thoughts on whether Brown will show up at the start of camp, via NFL.com. “If he’s here, great. And if he’s not, we move on. That’s how we’ve done it in the past. This isn’t the first time I’ve been through something like this. My thing is, we just go. Whoever the next guy is that’s gonna step in there — we know Joe Thuney can do it in a heartbeat — so, if we need to go in that direction, we can go in that direction. We’ve got some new faces in there that can also do it.”
The two sides did make one last effort to agree on a deal prior to the deadline, but were too far apart. K.C. reportedly offered Brown a deal that would have given him the highest signing bonus and APY at his position on a six-year contract. That said, Brown’s camp was reportedly uneasy about the structure as the deal moved forward. ESPN reported that the six-year offer contained $139 million in total salary, but $44 million of that would come as a base salary in the final year, which he likely would never see. So, it was really more of a five-year, $95 million contract rather than what it was initially billed as.
When asked if he was surprised a deal wasn’t able to be executed in time, Reid pulled out the history book: “Listen, things happen. That’s the name of this game where we are today. It’s probably been that way for a number of years. Go back to Babe Ruth moving to the Yankees from the Red Sox. Great player, this type of thing in professional sports goes on. You work through it, you work through it as a player, you work through it as a team and move forward.”
Brown was acquired by the Chiefs last offseason in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. While playing on the left side of the line, Brown played in 16 games for Kansas City in 2021 and graded 10th among eligible tackles as a pass blocker, according to Pro Football Focus. With that in mind, it’s natural for his quarterback to want him accounted for at camp, but Patrick Mahomes noted that he also understands the business side of the game.
“You want him to be here, just because of the guy he is and he’s a leader on this football team,” Mahomes said Friday. “But at the same time, when it comes to money and contracts and stuff like that, I’ll never kinda force anyone to do anything, cause I know they’re trying to provide for their family long term. But as a teammate and as a friend, you want him to be here and be a part of this.”
As a team last season, the Chiefs were tied as the sixth-highest-graded offensive line in the NFL and Brown was a big reason why.