The Cincinnati Bengals signed Orlando Brown to a four-year deal and, as a result, they now have their franchise left tackle. Bengals fans are all too familiar with Brown considering he started with the hated Baltimore Ravens and then spent the past two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and won a Super Bowl ring with them just last month.
The Bengals signing Brown was shocking, as there had never really been any discussions involving him as part of their plans. No one really expected this team to take a big swing because, if we’re being entirely honest, they typically don’t. These are the kind of moves teams have to make when they have elite quarterbacks though.
To get more insight on Brown and why he didn’t return to Kansas City, I spoke with Matt Conner of Arrowhead Addict (FanSided’s Chiefs site). Matt gave some great insight here!
Q: The Chiefs were reportedly going to franchise tag Orlando Brown a second time and then changed their minds and allowed him to hit free agency. Why was this the case?
A: If some financial hurdles weren’t in place here on the part of the team conflicting with the NFL calendar, I think Orlando Brown would be a Chiefs player in 2023. The franchise tag would have worked well for the Chiefs with another cost-controlled year and the leverage overall, but in order to essentially have Brown on a 1-year, $19.9M deal in ’23, the Chiefs needed to have that very amount of cap space freed up by the deadline.
The Chiefs could have pulled a few moves to make it happen but it would have muddied the picture. For example, they were also trying to convince Frank Clark to stay on a restructured deal at the time and that plan would have been out the window immediately. So it was impossible to tag him and the market was going to force some things, so the Chiefs just said “you’re free” and then moved on. Again, in a perfect world, he would have been tagged and at least traded for something but K.C. lacked the cap space.
Q: It felt like Chiefs fans didn’t want the team to commit to Brown long-term. Why do you think this is?
A: Yeah the fan base is a bit more sour grapes on Brown than anyone should be, but sports fans aren’t exactly known for their nuanced takes. The truth is Brown came to the Chiefs complaining to his former franchise about not getting what he wanted (money and the left tackle role) and then kept complaining with his new team when the money part still wasn’t there. It’s hard for any player to ingraitate himself with a group with such a demeanor.
Then it became a chicken-or-egg scenario. His monetary demands (to be paid at top of the market) “forced” him to hold out for part of training camp which then led to sloppy play to start the season when he finally came back around. At that point, fans saw him struggle early and made up their minds that he wasn’t worth what he was asking for. They weren’t wrong, technically, but Brown played much better as the season went along and it’s hard to find fans who’ll give him that much credit.
Q: What was Brown’s biggest strength while in KC?
A: His size and strength are unmatched. You have to go around a mountain of a man and that in itself adds precious milliseconds to a play in which such micro-measurements are the difference between a pressured or clean pocket. And of course, running behind a guy like this is a dream come true for any halfback.
Q: What was Brown’s biggest weakness while in KC?
A: The strength is also a weakness here in that the Chiefs are such a pass-heavy team with a true mauler for a left tackle. It’s like entering a Formula 1 race with a monster truck (or some other lame analogy). That’s not to say Brown was a bad tackle. Not at all. Even at his absolute worst in K.C., he was still league average and, down the stretch, he was downright excellent. But K.C. also had to adjust what they asked their tackles to do with Brown in the room (e.g. not play so vertical).
Q: Do you think the Bengals are a good fit for Brown?
A: I can’t say whether it’s good but it’s gotta be better. Look, Brown is a good tackle already. If a team needs that, no matter what kind of offense they run, Brown is going to give a team that much. Beyond that, Cincy seems to run the ball more than Kansas City and I think Brown will find some additional motivation by being back in the AFC North where he started.
Q: What do you think of the contract Brown received?
A: Yeah, everything here seems quite fair. Can’t argue with the rate or the time given his experience and relative youth.
Thanks again to Matt conner for taking the time to talk to me and answer my questions!