Chiefs Free Agent Signing Labeled ‘Big-Money Gamble’

We are about a week into NFL free agency and the Kansas City Chiefs have already plugged several holes.

So far, they’ve signed OT Jawaan Taylor, DL Charles Omenihu, LB Drue Tranquill, S Mike Edwards and re-signed IOL Nick Allegretti. These moves have mostly been aimed at replacing key losses like LT Orlando Brown Jr., RT Andrew Wylie, DE Frank Clark (unsigned) and S Juan Thornhill.

However, KC has also seen WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, DT Khalen Saunders and FB Michael Burton depart in free agency, whose previous roles remain unfilled.

Entering Week 2, the Chiefs are already being questioned when it comes to one decision — replacing Brown with Taylor on a $60 million guaranteed contract. Around the NFL writer Kevin Patra labeled this one of his top-five “riskiest signings” of 2023 so far during an article on March 20.

NFL Writers Worry Over Chiefs’ Orlando Brown-Jawaan Taylor Swap at Left Tackle

This is the second time that we’ve heard some worry over the Chiefs free agency swap at left tackle. The first was more indirect, as quarterback Patrick Mahomes II was named one of the biggest losers so far after losing Brown, Wylie, Smith-Schuster and potentially, Mecole Hardman.

Patra was much blunter about this exchange during this Around the NFL article.

“The Chiefs couldn’t agree to terms with Orlando Brown on a long-term contract, so they switched gears and added Taylor on a massive deal that includes $60 million guaranteed,” he wrote, adding: “That’s a big-money gamble.”

Patra continued, explaining: “The more significant risk comes in moving Taylor from right tackle, where he’s played his entire pro career, to the blind side. The 25-year-old has played 18 career snaps at LT, all in 2022, and most of them in big packages for Jacksonville. Yes, the Chiefs had a former RT in Brown move permanently to the left side. But he had started 11 games at LT for Baltimore in 2020 before he joined K.C. Taylor is a good player and has the athleticism to possibly make a solid transition. Still, as Josh Sitton once famously said of O-linemen switching sides, it’s like wiping your butt with the other hand.”

The columnist concluded that “the trust in Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes and offensive line coach Andy Heck to mask any deficiencies will help mitigate the risk, but the guaranteed money is a gamble there won’t be serious hiccups.”

Bengals Signing of Orlando Brown Praised Yet Again

During the biggest winners and losers article referenced above — written by Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr — the Cincinnati Bengals and Joe Burrow were also called a winner for acquiring Brown. Patra echoed a similar opinion during his best and riskiest signings piece.

“The combination of contract and talent makes Brown one of the best signings of this offseason,” Patra reasoned after listing Brown to Cincy as his top signing of NFL free agency so far.

“Is he an Andrew Whitworth-type left tackle? No. But he’s stout in pass protection — even if he sometimes gets beat around the edge by quicker rushers — and brings power to the run game,” he went on. “While most offensive linemen get overpaid on the open market, the Bengals actually inked Brown to a reasonable deal (a steal, on a certain level). At $16 million per year with $31 million fully guaranteed, it’s a solid deal that places Brown at No. 10 among left tackles in per-year money and sixth in fully guaranteed dollars.”

Let’s briefly compare these two contracts using Over the Cap:

Brown/Bengals: 4 years, $64.092 million ($16.023 million per year), $31.1 million guaranteed.
Taylor/Chiefs: 4 years, $80 million ($20 million per year), $40 million guaranteed.

Clearly, Kansas City feels the 26-year-old Taylor is a much better investment than the 27-year-old Brown considering they were unwilling to offer the latter a deal like that in 2022.

We’ll see how it all shakes out between the growingly bitter AFC rivals, but Patra believes Brown’s fit in Cincinnati is “ideal” for all parties. He concluded: “Much like Patrick Mahomes in K.C., Joe Burrow’s ability to step up when the LT gets beat around the edge will help mask the weakest part of Brown’s pass-blocking. Adding Brown is also a giant leap from Jonah Williams, who has since requested a trade out of Cincinnati.”

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