Chiefs Called Upon to Sign 124-Game Starter to Replace Orlando Brown Jr.

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith.

The Kansas City Chiefs did not use their franchise tag on Orlando Brown Jr. prior to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline. Kansas City can still lock Brown in long-term prior to him becoming a free agent on March 15. However, other options at left tackle do exist for the Chiefs that don’t involve retaining Brown.

That’s why Chiefs fans are calling — albeit with a lack of enthusiasm in most cases — for Kansas City to sign veteran left tackle Donovan Smith, who is being released by the Buccaneers, according to NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero on March 7.

“Yes I would. I know he’s struggled but if the price was really good it’d be nice to have that vet presence to help a rookie,” one Twitter user wrote.

“I’d file Smith under the same category as George Fant or Andre Dillard. They were good not all that long ago but 2022 was bad. 1-year guy to pair with a high draft pick,” another user wrote.

“Feel like Donovan Smith is a very logical signing for the Chiefs heading into the draft,” Connor Christopherson of Arrowhead Report wrote. “He would be fine if the Chiefs aren’t able to secure a LT in the draft, but not good enough to break the bank in free agency.”

Donovan Smith an 8-Year Starter With Buccaneers

Donovan Smith, 29, entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2015. He has been a full-time starter in Tampa Bay since being drafted and has surrendered 41 total sacks in 124 career regular season starts, according to PFF. In seven playoff games, one of which was the Super Bowl LV victory over the Chiefs, Smith surrendered 3 total sacks (none of which were against Kansas City).

Last season, Smith gave up a total of 31 pressures (18 QB hurries, 7 QB hits, 6 sacks) in 13 regular season starts. He also had the second-most penalties called on him among all NFL offensive linemen (12), according to Football Database. Those penalties were for offensive holding (7), false start (4), and illegal use of hands (1).

Does Donovan Smith Make Sense for Chiefs?

Signing Donovan Smith would allow the Chiefs to get at least one more year of solid left tackle play under Smith, if not more depending on his level of play and the length of his contract with Kansas City.

Again — the Chiefs and Brown can still re-commit to each other via a long-term deal before March 15. But signing Smith is an option for the Chiefs if Brown opts to take to free agency. At that point, Brown could command a contract that pays him upwards of $20 million per year, which is way more than what Smith can command in free agency based on his production last season.

Overall, Smith is a downgrade over Brown. But the expectation regarding the play of whoever is Kansas City’s starting left tackle next season will have to be lowered if Brown takes to free agency.

Due to a slim free agency class at the position and where the Chiefs currently sit in the draft, acquiring a Pro Bowl-level left tackle through one of those avenues will be extremely difficult this offseason.

Trading for a quality left tackle could be possible. But based on the value of that position, Kansas City would likely have to overpay in order to acquire one via trade.

Because of all of this, if the Chiefs opt to fill their starting left tackle vacancy via free agency and/or the draft in the event that Brown leaves, Kansas City fans should not expect an equal level of production at left tackle compared to when Brown filled that role.

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