Analyst Critical of Chiefs’ Major Free Agent Signing: ‘He’s a Downgrade’

Getty Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

With the Kansas City Chiefs unable to agree on contract terms with starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the team let him walk during free agency and used the free agent pool to find his replacement.

The first major signing for the Chiefs this offseason was former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, who they signed to a four-year, $80 million deal. Yet, the move could present some issues for the defending Super Bowl champions, which is why ESPN’s Seth Walder is critical of the signing.

“Taylor is a fine pass-protector, but he’s not elite. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s quick release made Taylor look better than he is last season,” Walder wrote on March 24. “And Taylor is a weakness in the run game. If he plays left tackle, he’s a downgrade from Orlando Brown Jr., but he’s getting more money per year than Brown signed for in Cincinnati.”

Jawaan Taylor Has Important Transition to Make

Jawaan Taylor, 25, entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019. He spent the last four seasons as a full-time starter for Jacksonville and surrendered a total of 149 pressures (108 QB hurries, 28 sacks, 4 QB hits) during that timeframe according to PFF.

During the 2022 season, Taylor surrendered a total of just 16 pressures (11 QB hurries, 5 sacks) in 17 regular season games played. In Jacksonville’s two playoff games, he surrendered 5 total pressures (4 QB hurries, 1 QB hit) but did not allow a sack.

According to Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star, Taylor is “anticipated” to make a switch to left tackle after playing all but 18 snaps at right tackle during his NFL career.

“The Chiefs believe Jawaan Taylor, who’s played primarily right tackle, is athletic enough to make the switch to left tackle, I’m told,” McDowell wrote on March 13. “Will wait to see how the next few days/weeks shake out, but anticipate him on the left side.”

Instead of re-upping with Orlando Brown Jr., who signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Chiefs are taking a risk by signing Taylor and switching him to a position he has rarely played at the NFL level.

However, if there’s one coaching staff that can help make it a smooth transition for Taylor, it’s Kansas City’s.

State of the Chiefs Offensive Line

One of the more notable departures for the Chiefs this offseason happened when the Washington Commanders signed former Kansas City starting right tackle Andrew Wylie to a three-year, $24 million deal, according to Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team.

With Wylie gone and Taylor expected to slide into the starting left tackle spot, here is what Kansas City’s starting offensive line looks like, going from left to right: Jawaan Taylor, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Lucas Niang.

Niang is a former third-round pick of the Chiefs in 2020 who lost his starting job to Wylie after tearing his left patellar tendon in January 2022. He is currently “penciled in” as the starting right tackle for the Chiefs based on what Brett Veach said about him at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.

“He lost a lot of weight (during his return last season), and I think we know he can do it,” Veach said of Niang, according to The Athletic’s Nate Taylor. “We feel confident in him. If that’s the case, we’d go into the offseason (program) with Lucas penciled in there, and he’d have to show us that he’s back to his old form.”

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