Unless you’ve been in hibernation, you are well aware of the drama surrounding Orlando Brown, Jr. He wants to play left tackle and that’s just not an option in Baltimore. So, he either sucks it up, plays right tackle another season in Charm City and then peddle his wares to the open market in 2022 or he gets his wish another way – via trade.
Sources close to the situation have informed me that the Ravens have invited Zeus, Jr.’s agent, Joe Panos, to find a suitor for Brown, the goal being to land a first-round pick.
Fans have speculated on Zeus’ value and many view the haul that the Dolphins received from the Texans for Laremy Tunsil as the benchmark for left tackle value. What they ignore is how bad that deal was for the Texans and that the orchestrator of that trade, Bill O’Brien, is now unemployed. So, let’s erase that benchmark, shall we?
And this brings us to Zeus’ worth in the marketplace…
Orlando is a two-time Pro Bowler. He’s 24 years old and in the final year of his rookie deal that will pay him $3.384M in 2021. All of those are attractive to a prospective buyer. And if you put stock in Pro Football Focus grades, Zeus graded out as the 24th best tackle in 2020 – a few notches above Tunsil.
Now the trigger behind all of this noise surrounding Brown, according to Brown, is his late father’s desire that his son become a left tackle in the NFL. The “blind side” carries weight and that weight translates into dollars. So, if we are to take Jr.’s word at face value, when you net it all out, the driving force is money. Left tackles are paid more and THAT is what Senior wanted for his son.
Word is that Jr. wants a new contract that averages $20M+ per year. And it’s entirely possible that he gets that. But there are some risks for a potential trade partner. First, a new team must get comfortable with Zeus’ body of work. He hasn’t played a full season at left tackle and maybe he hasn’t yet taken on the game’s best edge rushers to warrant such a pay day. Is his sample size sufficient enough for a new employer to be comfortable shelling out top dollar?
And here’s another buyer beware question that should be addressed. Did Orlando benefit by protecting the game’s most elusive quarterback? Might his productivity suffer with a prototypical pocket passer or a QB that lacks Lamar Jackson’s athleticism?
When Peyton Manning was with the Colts, free agent offensive linemen would leave for greener pastures from time to time, because the Colts regularly led the league in sacks allowed. But what buyers found out the hard way, is that the reason Manning wasn’t sacked very often, had to do with his ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage and get the ball out in lightning fashion. A similar phenomenon might be in play with Lamar.
Might LJ’s unique skills give the optical illusion that his offensive linemen are better than they really are? Do they benefit from his extreme escapability?
All of these considerations will weigh into a buyer’s willingness to spend.
If the buyer doesn’t get that new contract done prior to a trade, they could be more reluctant to give up draft capital, players or some combination thereof. And even if they aren’t reluctant, anything more than a late first round pick for Brown would be a major coup for GM Eric DeCosta.
The way I see it, Jacksonville looks like a good trading partner. They will bring in Trevor Lawrence to be their franchise quarterback and he’s a player who possesses very good mobility. Brown could protect his blind side. The Jaguars have plenty of cap space and they have the draft capital.
So, what is a reasonable amount of draft capital for Brown? Put me down for the trade value points associated with a late first round pick. Jacksonville’s 2nd round pick (No. 33 overall) and their 4th round pick (No. 96 overall) add up to a late first and that in my estimation, would equate to a fair deal.
Do yourself a favor and forget about that Tunsil deal. If Zeus is traded and if you firmly believe that the Dolphins thievery of the Texans should be DeCosta’s benchmark, you will be disappointed.
Other GM’s in the league don’t want to suffer Bill O’Brien’s fate.