The Kansas City Chiefs’ left tackle of the past two seasons has found a new home in free agency.
According to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, former Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. will sign with the Cincinnati Bengals. He’s currently finalizing a four-year contract worth over $64 million with a signing bonus of $31 million, which is the largest ever for an offensive lineman.
Prior to his time with the Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens selected Brown in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, making him the ninth offensive tackle drafted that year. In his time with the Ravens (2018-2020), Brown never missed a game, though he started just 11 games (regular season plus playoffs) in his rookie season.
Whitworth, now an NFL analyst for Amazon, took a call from Brown Wednesday night just as he hung up with Bengals
“It’s exciting, for one thing, to get a player of that caliber,” Whitworth said. “Orlando has played in Baltimore and Kansas City, two different systems. One is physical domination and the other one is tailored to Patrick Mahomes. He’s proven he can win a lot of different ways and that experience should be a great influence on the group. Let’s face it. When Joe Burrow is protected, no matter what else is going on, the Bengals are hard to beat.”
Williams, who counts more than $12 million against the salary cap, is coming off surgery for a dislocated kneecap and is reportedly going to be ready for training camp. The injury status of incumbent right tackle La’el Collins for Opening Day is murky since he’s just in the second month of rehab for a torn ACL. At the combine offensive line coach Frank Pollack said swing tackle Jackson Carman is in the mix to start on the right side if Collins isn’t ready for early in the season.
But no matter how they line up, it is one of the biggest lightning strikes in Bengals history as the roaring ’20s continue for the two-time AFC finalists after they secured one of the top players in the game who doesn’t turn 27 until May 2. They know each other well after two seasons the Bengals and Chiefs have played four titanic games and split the last two AFC title games. Bengals sack ace Trey Hendrickson, who had 1.5 sacks in those games, reportedly has high regard for Brown. And, Brown broke into the NFL the previous three seasons with Baltimore in the AFC North. He’s missed just one of a possible 82 regular-season games and started all 10 playoff games.
A third-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2018, Brown bristled at playing right tackle and the Ravens traded him to the Chiefs. The son of the late Browns and Ravens left tackle Orlando Brown, Sr., has been on the left side without moving ever since. He told NFL Media the offer to play left tackle is what swung him to Cincinnati.
“I’m super thankful for the opportunity to carry on my father’s legacy and be a left tackle,” Brown said. “It was important to be able to play that position and play for a winning team and a winning quarterback. Who Dey!”
The monstrous 6-8, 363-pound Brown is fiercely proud of how he plays left tackle. As Bengals Ring of Honor right tackle Willie Anderson recalled Wednesday night, Brown’s father paved the way for right tackles to make big money in the early days of free agency in the 1990s while urging his son to play left tackle, at the time the more high-profile side.
Brown Jr. was an expected target, at least of interest, for the Chicago Bears. Not saying the Bears didn’t show some interest in Brown Jr. We don’t know that.
But their lingering and unsolved question marks on the offensive line, specifically at both tackle positions, raise questions as to why they didn’t pursue Brown with vigor.
The 26-year-old tackle is one of the best offensive linemen in the game. He has four Pro Bowl nods to his name and helped protect Patrick Mahomes during the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl run last season.
Brown Jr. did receive a healthy amount of money with the Bengals. Specifically, $64 million – including a $31 million signing bonus in that number.
But the Bears weren’t opposed to spending big money on the tackle position. They reportedly showed interest in Mike McGlinchey, who inked north of $87 million with the Broncos earlier in free agency.
Their decision not to go the distance with Brown Jr. is head-scratching.
It also places the Bears’ decisions for the remainder of free agency and the upcoming NFL draft – specifically, the No. 9 overall pick they possess – under a microscope.
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