The Kansas City Chiefs are gearing up for another season under head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and the opening round of training camp arrivals came on Friday. As quarterbacks and first-year players arrived on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO, they did so while being uncertain of whether their starting left tackle would show up the following week.
Despite ongoing negotiations throughout the offseason, the Chiefs and Orlando Brown Jr. were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension by the NFL's instituted July 15 deadline. As a result, Brown is slated to play out the 2022 season on the franchise tag (just over $16.6 million) once he signs it. He has yet to do so, though, which raises questions about his potential participation in training camp, the preseason and even the regular season.
On Friday, Reid spoke to the media about all things related to camp. When asked about Brown and whether he'd be a part of this year's activities, Reid was noncommittal:
“You know, I don’t know that," Reid said. "I don’t know whether he is going to be here or not. If he’s here, great. If he’s not, we move on. That’s how we’ve done it in the past. This isn’t the first time I have been through something like this, so my thing is, we just go. Whoever the next guy is, is going to step in there. We know Joe Thuney can do it in a heartbeat so if we need to go that direction, we can go that direction. We’ve got some new faces in there that can also do it.”
Despite having very minimal experience at left tackle, Thuney did indeed step in and play there in a pinch late last season while Brown dealt with a last-minute injury. He performed admirably, which could lead to him sliding over from his usual left guard spot should Brown miss time. As far as new faces go, Reid is likely referring free agent signing Geron Christian, who is entering his fifth season in the league following stints with the Washington Commanders and the Houston Texans. While it remains to be seen whether fifth-round draft pick Darian Kinnard is one of those capable new faces as well, it's not out of the realm of possibility.
When asked about whether he was surprised by the Chiefs' inability to agree with Brown and his camp, Reid acknowledged that things like this are simply a part of sports and have been for years. He drew an unorthodox comparison — Babe Ruth going from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees way back in 1920 — as an example. The 64-year-old head coach added that although Brown is missing new installations of elements within the Chiefs' offense, he'll maintain a solid foundation of the things he did last season. Upon his return, that learning curve won't be nearly as steep as it would for someone going through the entire system for the first time (like Brown was in 2021).
Holding out this year doesn't do Brown much good, as his franchise tag amount is guaranteed and he'd presumably need to play in order to justify eventually getting the contract he and his agent have recently campaigned for. With that said, the risk of injury during offseason and preseason activities is always present. There hasn't been any sort of formal communication on Brown's end as to when — or if — he'll show up at camp but in the meantime, the Chiefs aren't going to wait around. They'll move forward, and Reid believes Brown will too. He isn't worried about the long-term impact of this situation.
“There’s a time element," Reid said. "I think players, with time, they are able to sort that out. These are young guys; they sort it out. The business side of it and the football side of it and they’re able to separate that. For the most part, the ones I’ve been around have done a great job of that. And then they show up they do their football part. They’re still going to get paid. Orlando is going to be paid pretty good money. They are able to separate that and move on, that’s how it goes."