By Nick Athan & James Jefferson
Former Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has a new place to call home. According to NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo, the Cincinnati Bengals signed Brown to a four-year, $64 million contract that includes a record $31 million signing bonus. Brown’s departure from Kansas City was inevitable after the two sides were unable to come up with a new contract. With talks stalled, Kansas City signed former Jacksonville Jaguars Tackle, Jawaan Taylor. After spending his entire career at Right Tackle, the Chiefs plan to line up Taylor at left tackle.
Kansas City Chiefs General Manager, Brett Veach tried to negotiate a new deal with Brown. In fact, the numbers he ultimately signed for with Cincinnati were similar to his final offer. Kansas City was willing to pay him $16.5 Million annually but Brown and his agent, Michael Portner refused those overtures. The sticking point was the fact Kansas City would not guarantee he’d open the season as the teams starting left tackle. Brown was arguably the KC’s best tackle in 2022 only allowing four sacks during the regular season. However, playing on an island for much of the season, Brown struggled with quarterback pressures and finishing off blocks. Kansas City already lost right tackle, Andrew Wylie, to the Washington Commanders, so KC will have a pair of new tackles in 2023.
Now that he signed, Brown has the job of protecting Bengals star quarterback Joe Burrow. Like Mahomes, Burrow gets the ball out quickly and Brown should be able to adjust to the style of his new quarterback. The Bengals spent much of their free agent dollars a year ago rebuilding their offensive line. However, injuries and their lack of continuity didn’t address their shortcomings.
For their reward, the Bengals get a massive left tackle, that could shore up their offensive line. Brown excels at run blocking but his lack of athleticism should be a concern in pass protection. There is some risk in giving Brown the guaranteed dollars he received. The Bengals have three superstars on rookie deals, Burrrow, Jamaar Chase, and Tee Higgins who all must be extended after this season. Thus far in free agency, the Bengals have lost several starters on both sides of the ball. So this move while smart also shows their willingness to go all in one more season before ownership has to pony up to keep their offensive stars.
The 2023 season could be a turning point for Cincinnati that might not yield the title hopes they desire. With no other suitors for Brown in free agency, the Bengals made a bold and desperate move in trying to address their ailing offensive line.
Sources: Four-time Pro Bowl tackle and Super Bowl champ Orlando Brown Jr. is finalizing a four-year, $64.092 million front-loaded deal with the #Bengals that includes an over $31M signing bonus — largest ever for an o-lineman.
Brown’s agent, Michael Portner, confirmed the deal. pic.twitter.com/GFFZX0zLrs
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 16, 2023