There is an out-sized importance on getting it right at quarterback that trumps everything else. So through that lens, you can understand why we obsess over the Bears’ pursuits of every and any possible fit.
But while we weigh QB options in free agency trade, and the draft, I’m reminded that there are other positions the Bears could/should take a swing at addressing this offseason:
Sources: #Ravens OT Orlando Brown wants to be traded. After tweeting his desire to only play left tackle – he filled in there for Ronnie Stanley and shined this season – Brown will only play for a team that will play him at his preferred spot. Baltimore would need a major haul.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 10, 2021
Issues along Chicago’s offensive line persist. Or more accurately, long-term questions regarding the Bears’ tackles need answers.
So if fixing QB1 is the offseason’s top priority, then finding solutions at tackle should be priority 1A. And if the Bears are unable to connect on a big swing at quarterback, they would be wise to check in with the Ravens regarding Orlando Brown’s situation.
Brown, 24, is a two-time Pro Bowler with 48 games of experience. A right tackle by trade, Brown spent some time at left tackle in 2020 after a season-ending injury put Ronnie Stanley out of action. Brown thrived at the position, perhaps sparking him to make this tweet:
I’m a LEFT Tackle.
— Orlando Brown Jr. (@ZEUS__78) January 29, 2021
If Brown truly believes he is a LEFT tackle, then one can understand why he sees this as an opportunity to push his way into a new situation that would give him the opportunity to play that position. No judgment here, guy. We’ve all got our preferences. And frankly, all of us should be more up front with our desires and what we want out of our jobs and other life ventures (Michael: Okay. I want to marry Scarlett Johansson, and I want her to get along with my current wife).
This request might seem like a small deal to some. But with Brown entering the final year of his rookie deal, it means he’s on the cusp of getting a sizable next contract. And for a left tackle, those deals tend to be more lucrative than their counterparts on the right side. I doubt Brown’s request for a position change is solely about money. But I also wanted to take a moment to follow the money.
For instance, take Stanley’s extension with the Ravens. Per OverTheCap.com, Baltimore’s current left tackle was given a contract worth $98.75 million in total value. The deal includes $70.866 million in total guarantees and $64.116 million in fully guaranteed money. That’s a hefty chunk of change. Meanwhile, Lane Johnson’s market-setting extension from the Eagles in 2019 was worth $72 million in total value. Johnson’s deal features $55.845 million in total guarantees and $25 million in full guarantees. That’s also a large glob of money. But that left tackle pile is a bit bigger than the right tackle pile. Ultimately, that’s not inconsequential.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports the Ravens require a “major haul” if they trade Brown. Not only is Brown a star at an important position on Baltimore’s offense, he doesn’t turn 25 until May, has an NFL pedigree (his father was nine-year NFL lineman Orlando Brown Sr.), and is on the last year of his rookie deal. Players like Brown don’t grow on trees. And they don’t hit the market often. So, yeah, the cost of doing business should be pricey.
Considering the Bears’ limited resources and needs elsewhere, it’s tough to imagine pursuing Brown as a high priority. HOWEVER … if Chicago is interested in upgrading a position of need by moving anything and everything to do so, looking at a star offensive tackle would make for a fine alternative.