Bengals To Sign OT Orlando Brown Jr.

MARCH 17: Brown’s guarantee numbers are in. The new Bengals left tackle’s only guarantees come via the $31.1MM signing bonus. That money is due Sunday, Albert Breer of tweets. He will be tied to only a $1.5MM base salary in 2023 and a $4.5MM base, along with a $4MM roster bonus, in 2024. Brown will earn $42.35MM over the deal’s first two years, Breer adds. Brown’s fully guaranteed number checks in sixth among left tackles.

Brown indicated the Chiefs’ 2022 offer did not include enough guaranteed money. While his Bengals AAV and guarantee number do not quite match the $23MM per year and $38MM fully guaranteed the Chiefs were offering, respectively, those figures were tied to a six-year proposal. Brown will be tethered to the Bengals through his age-30 season and will have a chance at another negotiation earlier than he would have had he accepted the Chiefs’ summer offer.

MARCH 15: After winning a Super Bowl with the Chiefs, Orlando Brown Jr. is heading to a conference foe. The free agent offensive tackle is finalizing a deal with the Bengals, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter).

It will be a four-year, $64MM deal with Cincinnati, notes Pelissero. The front-loaded contract also includes a $31MM signing bonus, the largest ever for an offensive lineman. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that two-thirds of the contract is guaranteed, and the contract will only make Brown the 17th-highest-paid offensive tackle in the NFL.

Brown played out the 2022 season on the franchise tag, earning him $16.7MM. The Chiefs were rumored to be prepared to re-tag Brown, but they passed on doing so, all but ensuring that he’d hit unrestricted free agency. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo tweets that the veteran was insistent on staying at left tackle, and the Bengals will allow him to do just that.

“I’m super thankful for the opportunity to carry on my father’s legacy and be a left tackle,” Brown told Garafolo (Twitter link). “It was important to be able to play that position and play for a winning team and a winning quarterback. Who Dey!”

Brown has established himself as one of the league’s top tackles while protecting Lamar Jackson in Baltimore and Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City. He was traded to the Chiefs in 2021 and has earned a Pro Bowl nod in each of his two seasons with the organization. This past year, he appeared in all 17 games en route to a Super Bowl championship. Pro Football Focus graded Brown as the NFL’s 19th-best offensive tackle among 81 qualifiers, the fourth straight year he’s finished in the top-half at the position.

Last offseason, the Bengals were busy investing money in their offensive line as they looked to keep quarterback Joe Burrow upright. The team ended up signing La’el Collins, Alex Cappa, and Ted Karras for a combined $21MM in guaranteed money. Those three players each contributed more than 950 offensive snaps, as did fellow starters Cordell Volson and Jonah Williams.

All of those players are still under contract, and it remains to be seen who Brown will be knocking out of the lineup. Williams was generally the team’s LT in 2022, although Collins was the tackle with the worst Pro Football Focus grade in 2022. Jason Fitzgerald of tweets that the Bengals rarely bail on acquisitions after only one season, although cutting Collins would save the team $6MM against the cap.

Brown, 26, turned down the Chiefs’ extension offer at last year’s July deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions. Kansas City offered Brown a six-year, $139MM deal that would have topped Trent Williams‘ $23MM-AAV record for offensive linemen. While this Cincinnati pact obviously carries a much lower AAV, Brown cited insufficient guarantees as the reason he passed on the Chiefs’ offer. The team offered Brown $52.5MM in total guarantees and $38MM fully guaranteed. Brown bet on himself, stayed healthy and landed his long-term deal. Given what the Chiefs offered last year, it will be interesting to learn the full details of Brown’s Bengals contract.

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