Chiefs make big investment by acquiring Orlando Brown from Ravens
By Randy Mueller
Special to FOX Sports
When the Baltimore Ravens signed Pro Bowl left tackle Ronnie Stanley to a five-year, $98 million extension in October 2020, it was not a matter of if they would trade right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. It was a matter of when.
In a year when salary-cap room is at a premium, and with the chance that Brown would walk at season’s end for no more than a 2022 compensatory pick, the Ravens elected to cash in now. Baltimore recouped its initial investment on the former third-round pick while the price was high by trading Brown to the tackle-starved Kansas City Chiefs on Friday.
The Ravens will receive the Chiefs' first-round pick (No. 31) in Thursday’s draft, along with three other picks (one of which is in 2022), in exchange for the 24-year-old Brown, who moved to left tackle after Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 8 last season. Brown will no doubt play on the left side for the Chiefs and protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes' backside.
From the general manager's chair, I automatically go to the next move that will be precipitated by a deal such as this. The Ravens likely have a replacement in mind, if not already agreed to, who will play right tackle. They recently had former Steeler Alejandro Villanueva in for a visit, and the six-year veteran seems to be the most likely candidate, especially because he can play either side.
From the Chiefs' perspective, it would make the most sense for K.C. to have discussed an extension with Brown prior to making this trade, especially given the amount of compensation involved.
History shows that once a player is acquired in a big trade – like Jamal Adams in Seattle and DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona last offseason – the price to sign the player to a long-term agreement will only go up in the future.
I could never in good conscience trade a first-round pick for a player with one year left on his deal. The player would hold all the negotiating cards if he showed up without an extension in place.
The Chiefs are in a window to win now and have a roster that will be difficult for rookies to crack. There was competition for Brown, so the price was extreme, but in my opinion, the move makes sense for the AFC champions. Sure, they give up two potential players in third- and fourth-round picks, but this draft is very thin on depth at several positions, so this move isn’t unreasonable.
It also tells me that the Chiefs think Brown is better than any tackle they could draft at 31, and because he’s so young, they view him as a long-term answer at a position of great value in the NFL.
This is another example of why teams should draft offensive tackles. They come with value, and that value becomes very high if they are just above average in starting NFL quality. Don’t get me wrong: I think Brown is better than that.
A team can use a fill-in at guard or sign a veteran center to be the brains and communicator upfront. Tackles, however, are a different level and have a direct effect on keeping the QB upright.
I have been lucky in my career as a general manager to have been around two of the all-time best tackles in Hall of Famers Walter Jones and Willie Roaf. I slept easy knowing our QB’s backside was protected by a quality player.
Chiefs GM Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid just bought themselves some sleep aide in the form of a 6-foot-8, 350-pound tackle with 42 NFL starts already under his belt.
For those of us who live Sunday to Sunday, that’s pure gold.
Randy Mueller is the former general manager for the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins. He spent more than 30 years working in NFL front offices as a talent evaluator. Follow him on Twitter or at muellerfootball.com.