Ravens offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr. caused a stir last week when he posted a message on social media: “I’m a LEFT tackle.”
He certainly has a case.
I’m a LEFT Tackle.
— Orlando Brown Jr. (@ZEUS__78) January 29, 2021
Brown successfully made the switch from right to left tackle when Ronnie Stanley went down with a season-ending ankle injury.
However, Stanley should be a full-go next season and will resume his spot on the left side of the offensive line. The Ravens signed Stanley to a five-year, $98.75 million extension that will keep him under contract through the 2025 season.
They’re not going to pay Stanley all of that money to play right tackle.
So, where does that leave Brown?
Brown is still playing under his rookie deal and will earn a base salary of $920,000. He is eligible for free agency in 2022. Brown has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two seasons and will be a valuable target for most NFL teams because of his versatility to play on both the left and right side of the line.
There is some speculation the Ravens would consider trading Brown, but that’s likely not going to happen. The team is not going to part ways with such a valuable player unless they are completely overwhelmed by an interested team.
General manager Eric DeCosta is committed to retaining the team’s home-grown talent, especially with players like Brown.
“We want to keep our good, young players,” DeCosta said. “That’s something that as I thought about myself and being a GM, I really wanted us to try and do. We have these players. We draft them. We like them. We know them. They really fit us, and we want our fans to be able to reap the enjoyment of these players over time if we can, again, based on the parameters of the salary cap.
“So, we will continue to engage in talks with all of our good, young players, and try to sign as many guys as we can. Sometimes, you just can’t get a deal done. Sometimes, you can. It’s great when you can, but sometimes, you can’t.”
The Ravens have a competitive advantage with a pair of Pro-Bowl, bookend tackles. DeCosta does not want to disrupt that depth chart.
However, the situation with Brown becomes more precarious after the 2021 season. Baltimore is committed to reaching an extension with quarterback Lamar Jackson, which could cost the franchise about $42 million per season.
The salary cap will be lower this year because of the challenges created by COVID-19. There’s only so much money to go around and the Ravens will also begin negotiations with tight end Mark Andrews, who is eligible for free agency in 2022.
Last season, Andrews had 58 receptions for 701 yards with seven touchdowns. He will earn a base salary of $920,000 this season.
In all likelihood, DeCosta will use the franchise tag on either Brown or Andrews to buy more time to negotiate.
The Ravens’ prowess with the NFL draft ultimately creates these types of challenges.
“We want to have the best offensive line we can, and Orlando had a great year this year,” DeCosta said. “We are a tight end-centric offense, and Mark Andrews, in my opinion, is one of the better tight ends in the entire NFL. He’s a Pro Bowl tight end, in my opinion. So, we would be foolish to not want to try and keep him. Those discussions will start up at some point. Hopefully, we can make progress and get some deals done.”
“Hopefully” is the keyword because those negotiations won’t be easy.