Last week the Chiefs and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. tried to work out a long-term deal before the multi-year window for franchise players closed. The effort failed, and the team is reportedly not happy about it.
About Pete Grathoff from the Kansas City StarJeff Chadiha recently explained on the NFL Network that the Chiefs are frustrated with Brown’s refusal to accept last-and-best offer.
“There was frustration and disappointment,” Chadiha said, according to Grathoff. “They really like Orlando Brown Jr., they love having him on this team but the money he was asking was too much for them. They feel like they don’t want stability in the left tackle here, but they also don’t want to pay top money for a player who they don’t think is the best player in their position in the NFL.”
In the past, turning the franchise tag into a long-term deal wasn’t about making the player the highest-paid in their position. The point was to ensure that upon signing, the player was fully guaranteed two years of the franchise tag. And that’s exactly what the Chiefs were trying to do.
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Brown’s final offer included $38 million, which was fully guaranteed upon signing. That’s more than the two-year tag amount for Brown; He will earn $16.662 million this year and $19.99 million in 2023, for a total of $36.65 million.
The deal also included an additional $14.25 million in injury guarantees that would have been converted to a full guarantee in 2024.
Brown wanted, we’re told, a $40 million signing bonus and full guarantees on signing beyond that, along with a real-world annual average of $25 million.
“A front office worker said, ‘That’s not the same guy we traded for,'” Chadiha said of Grathoff. “The feeling is that when they brought him in from Baltimore, he would be a team player and work with them on a team-friendly deal. That was not the case. Right now we’re looking at a situation where Orlando Brown probably won’t be in training camp and possibly in the first week.”
That’s honestly the risk of trading for a player without making a new deal on the way through the door. It has happened multiple times in recent years; Laremy Tunsil went to the Texans with no new deal, Jalen Ramsey went to the Rams with no new deal, and Jamal Adams went to the Seahawks without a new deal. If the player stays healthy and effective, the time after the trade will push up the final price. By waiting, the Texans, Rams, and Seahawks all paid more than they would have had they closed the deal at the time of the trade.
Although Brown’s refusal to accept the best offer represents a departure from the usual formula for turning a franchise tag into a long-term deal, circumstances could change. The day for tackles at $16.665 million in 2022 is behind the market peak which surpassed $23 million. Also, the cap is ready to go further up. Brown’s deal, if he had accepted it, might have been obsolete by the next year.
With anything, it’s important to remember that the Chiefs decided to use the franchise tag to prevent Brown from becoming an unrestricted free agent in March. The team began a process that entitles Brown to earn $36.65 million over the next two years and then become an unrestricted free agent at age 28.
Here’s the question for every franchise-tagged player. Will the team make the player an offer that will make him give up his ability to go from year to year for two years before becoming a free agent? (As explained in playmakerany player willing and able to go from year to year for two years can turn the tables and potentially break the bank.) Brown chose to reject the Chiefs’ final offer and paid $36.65 million Dollars to adopt over the next two years and then enter the open market on the first day of the buying frenzy in 2024 — when the cap could be $30 million or $40 million (or more) higher than it is currently.
The Chiefs might not be happy about it, but Brown has every right not to be happy about being tagged. Once the Chiefs decide to take things in that direction, he earns the right to say, “I’m just going to give it two more years and go.”