Though not shocking for a team with a young franchise quarterback whom they are preparing to pay a buttload of money, the Cincinnati Bengals were not a team anticipated to be targeting a high-profile left tackle this offseason. Starter Jonah Williams certainly wasn’t banking on that happening.
But they did, and Orlando Brown Jr. is in the orange and black, and perhaps there’s nobody more upset about it than Williams, who immediately asked to be traded. There may be one out there, though, and that is Brown’s former quarterback, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes.
“It’s tough. I still talk to Orlando”, Mahomes said during a press conference recently at OTAs, via the Chiefs’ website. “You understand how great of a player he is. He makes Cincinnati an even better football team, so that stinks for us, but at the same time I’m happy for him that he got to a good place where he was able to get a good contract that he deserved”.
A four-time consecutive Pro Bowler, Brown was a third-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2018, spending his first three seasons there before being traded to the Chiefs. He played under the franchise tag during the 2022 season, earning a Super Bowl ring, before signing a four-year, $64 million contract with the Bengals to block for his third young Pro Bowl quarterback.
As for who will replace Brown’s left tackle spot for the Chiefs, it’s not quite set in stone, but the frontrunner is Donovan Smith, a ninth-year veteran who spent the entirety of his career up to this point with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has started all 124 games he’s played in since being drafted in the second round in 2015.
I don’t know why, exactly, Kansas City felt it should move on from Brown. It certainly wasn’t just money, because they signed right tackle Jawaan Taylor as an unrestricted free agent to a four-year contract worth $80 million. They obviously must have had a higher opinion of Taylor than they did of Brown.
But it is Cincinnati’s gain, as he is a clear upgrade for them over Williams, a former first-round draft pick who has been a rather unremarkable performer over the past three seasons, even though he has started every game for which he has been healthy.
As for the Chiefs, they were perennial Super Bowl favorites and have managed to claim two of the past four titles. They came close in 2020, losing in the Super Bowl, and many would argue it was because they simply didn’t have the offensive line.
They proceeded that offseason to go out and acquire Brown via trade from the Ravens along with veteran guard Joe Thuney, and they drafted center Creed Humphrey in the second round, who has quickly established himself as one of the best in the league at his position.
But how much will they miss Brown? How well can Smith hold down the fort on the left edge for Mahomes and company? Joe Burrow doesn’t care.