Orlando Brown Jr. made noise throughout the Twitter world when he tweeted out “I’m a LEFT Tackle” on Friday evening. The Baltimore Ravens tackle will be in the final year of his rookie contract in 2021 and is due for a long-term extension, which means that trade rumors involving Orlando Brown Jr. are swirling.
Brown began last season as the Ravens starting right tackle. He finished the year with 11 straight starts at left tackling following Ronnie Stanley‘s season-ending Week 8 injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The move was natural to Brown as it was where he started each of his 40 games at Oklahoma. Brown finished the season with a 76.4 overall grade per Pro Football Focus and was named to his second-straight Pro Bowl.
I’m a LEFT Tackle.
— Orlando Brown Jr. (@ZEUS__78) January 29, 2021
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta now has a dilemma to handle. Stanley had his contract extended this past October and will carry a cap hit of $19.75 million a year over the next five seasons. Brown, the Ravens presumed right tackle for next season, wants similar money. This leaves DeCosta in a bind. The Ravens do not have a large track record of giving lucrative deals to right tackles but Brown believes he is worth top-end left tackle money and may want to make the permanent switch to the left side in the future.
Paying both Stanley and Brown in the $19 million range would be very hard for the Ravens with other players like Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews also due large-scale extensions in the coming year. If Brown demands to be paid like Stanley, the Ravens may be in a position where they have to trade him to a team that is willing to meet his contract demands.
How the Baltimore Ravens Could Trade Orlando Brown Jr.
There’s a high chance that Brown is dealt by the Ravens this off-season if he wants high-end left tackle money. A number of high-profile left tackles have been moved over the past two seasons and Brown should be the next. He’s an elite-level player but the Ravens have bigger needs going into 2021.
The Ravens are also not known for breaking the bank on every quality lineman that plays on their team. Both first-round picks Ben Grubbs and Michael Oher were not retained following the expirations of their rookie contracts as well as recent later round standouts Keleche Osemeli, Ryan Jensen, and Rick Wagner.
I'd put the odds of Orlando Brown playing out his rookie deal at RT for the Ravens up there with the odds of Chad Henne winning Super Bowl MVP or me competing an Iron Man Triathlon
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 30, 2021
Only eight offensive linemen have played over 80 games as a member of the Ravens. Only five of those eight players played over five years in Baltimore. Two of those five, Jonathan Ogden and Marshal Yanda, are/will be in the Hall of Fame.
Left Tackle Money vs Right Tackle Money
The importance of the left tackle position is well documented through how each position is paid. On a lot of NFL teams, the left tackle is the second-highest-paid position outside of the quarterback.
The Philadelphia Eagles Lane Johnson is currently the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL. His average annual value of $18 million per season is $1.5 million more than the next player. Three left tackles exceed his AAV. David Bakhtiari is currently the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL with an AAV of $23 million — $5 million more than any right tackle in the NFL. Stanley is the third-highest paid at his position.
Brown is set to be a free agent in 2022 and if a team is willing to pay him as a left tackle, it would make a big difference in his bank account. After being acquired via trade by the Houston Texans during the 2019 off-season, Laremy Tunsil was given a three-year(s)/$66 million extension the following summer with an average annual value of $22 million. The same year, the Cleveland Browns signed unrestricted free agent Jack Conklin to a three-year(s)/$42 million contract with an AAV of $14 million. He was selected as the first-team All-Pro right tackle in 2020.
The Ravens have done a lot of winning with Stanley and Brown as their tackles but they can only have one left tackle. If Brown wants to play left tackle in the NFL and make left tackle-caliber money, he will have to do it outside of Baltimore.
The Price of A Young Left Tackle
If Brown is being marketed as a high-end left tackle, the price could be fairly steep. Tunsil’s trade to the Texans from the Miami Dolphins seems like the best measuring stick for a potential Brown trade.
The Dolphins dealt a package of Tunsil, wide receiver Kenny Stills, and a fourth-round pick for two first-round picks, a second-round pick, defensive back Johnson Bademosi, and tackle Julie’n Davenport. Neither Dolphins player-acquisition was a starter by the end of 2020. At the time of the deal, Tunsil was 24 years old and coming off his third NFL season as a starter. Brown is currently 24 years old and has three years of starting experience.
After a lengthy holdout, Trent Williams forced his way off of the Washington Football Team last season. He was traded to the San Francisco 49ers during the 2020 off-season for a 2020 fifth-round pick and 2021 third-round pick. Williams has been one of the best left tackles in football over the past decade but is a lot older than Tunsil at 32 years old.
The price for Brown is likely somewhere in between what the Dolphins got for Tunsil and what the 49ers got for Williams. Brown should command at least a first-round pick but getting two in return would be very steep. Tunsil’s production in his first three years is comparable to Browns and he will likely demand a similar, but slightly smaller package, to his. Look for Brown to yield a first-round pick as well as a Day 2 selection.
Side Notes on Trades Involving Multiple First-Round Picks
Only 13 players have ever been dealt for multiple first-round picks. Five of those deals have happened within the past three years. The Chicago Bears acquiring Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders, the Texans acquiring Tunsil, the Los Angles Rams acquiring Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks acquiring Jamal Adams from the New York Jets, and the Rams acquiring Matthew Stafford from the Detriot Lions. Each Mack, Ramsey, and Adams are debatably the three best players in the league at their respective positions. Stafford plays the most important position on the field.
Potential Trade Suitors For Orlando Brown Jr.
There are a number of teams that could use Brown’s services. It is very important to keep your quarterback protected, especially if they are young, and finding a dependable left tackle isn’t always that easy.
The Dolphins currently have a young quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa and multiple first and second-round picks this year. They finished 10-6 this past season despite having a PFF’s 28th-ranked offensive line and will likely be depending on a lot of unproven players again in 2021. If the Dolphins believe they could find a young franchise left tackle, pay him, and keep their young quarterback set up to succeed, they have the resources to do so. The 18th-overall pick and the 50th-overall pick would likely be a good value for Brown. This would allow Austin Jackson to swing over to the right side and kick Robert Hunt into the interior.
The Jaguars will presumably be bringing in quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first-overall pick but also hold the 25th-overall pick in the draft. Cam Robinson has played the majority of the last four seasons at left tackle for the Jaguars and will be a free agent this off-season. His play has been serviceable but it is likely a tier or two below Brown’s. Keeping Lawrence happy and off the ground is likely priority number-one for whoever the new general manager is in Jacksonville. Moving the 25th-overall pick and the 45th-overall for a proven protector would help Lawrence’s level of comfort early in his career.
Finding a team that needs a franchise left tackle shouldn’t be hard for DeCosta. It will be a matter of finding who can offer the most. Brown has started 46 straight games for the Ravens and has not missed a snap over that time frame.
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