The Kansas City Chiefs have a tough decision to make this offseason in regards to the use of their franchise tag. Among the pending free agents in Kansas City, two stand out the most when it comes to who the team should use the franchise tag on: starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and safety Tyrann Mathieu.
Mathieu is a leader in Kansas City along with being a two-time All Pro and Pro Bowler during his tenure with the Chiefs. Brown has solidified a part of the offensive line that is pivotal when it comes to keeping quarterback Patrick Mahomes upright in the pocket and healthy. Brown did his duties well enough during his first season in Kansas City to earn a Pro Bowl nod.
But who will the Chiefs choose to franchise tag? General manager Brett Veach narrowed down that answer for us at the 2022 NFL Combine.
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Veach: Chiefs Will ‘Likely’ Tag Orlando Brown
Speaking to the media for the first time since the end of the 2021 season, Veach said that Kansas City will “likely” use the franchise tag on Brown this offseason.
“That’s likely, we’re going to work hard to get a deal done with him,” Veach told the media in Indianapolis when asked if the Chiefs would tag Brown.
Tagging Brown would not only keep him in Kansas City for the 2022 season, but it would also give the Chiefs’ front office time to come to terms on a multi-year extension with the veteran offensive tackle. That in turn could lower Brown’s cap number for the 2022 season and solidify Mahomes’ blind side for multiple years.
Brown Projected to Get Record-Breaking Contract
Spotrac has Brown’s market value earning him a five-year, $116 million deal — $23.3 million annually — this offseason, which would make him the highest-paid offensive tackle per year in the NFL. That would be a great accomplishment for Brown, as he would reset the OT market after there were questions regarding if he could transition smoothly from a run-heavy Baltimore Ravens offense to a pass-heavy Chiefs offense. The Pro Bowl nod shows how that went.
However, taking on a contract like that could be a cap burden for Kansas City this offseason and in future years.
A recently-added page on the OverTheCap website shows the “restructure potential” for each NFL team. The page shows what each team’s cap space would look like for the 2022 season if they restructured all their current contracts by converting “scheduled payments such as base salary or roster bonuses into signing bonuses that are prorated equally across the length of the contract, over a maximum of five years,” per the website.
For Kansas City, if they were to do “simple restructures,” they would have $59 million in available cap space. If they were to do “maximum restructures,” they would have $90.1 million in available cap space.
Those numbers don’t exemplify how much money the team will actually free up this offseason to spend. However, it tells us the kind of flexibility the Chiefs have with their current player contracts to move around money, bring in/retain players, and continue to compete for championships moving forward.
The room could be created to tag Brown and then sign him to a multi-year extension. But that’s a large contract to take on, especially if the team wants to bring back pending free agents like safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback Charvarius Ward, and defensive end Melvin Ingram.