The Kansas City Chiefs are set to begin their opening round of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) very soon, and Andy Reid's clubs have historically had remarkable attendance in such events. OTAs aren't mandatory, so this speaks to players understanding the importance of showing up and putting in work despite activities not allowing full pads or contact.
With that said, the ongoing contract situation regarding left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. could be a limiting factor in that aforementioned attendance.
Brown, whom the Chiefs acquired in the pre-draft blockbuster trade with the Baltimore Ravens a year ago, is due for an extension on his rookie deal. The Chiefs and general manager Brett Veach slapped the franchise tag on him back in March, thus buying both sides some time to get a deal ironed out. It was an expected move, yet a contract has yet to be solidified and a couple of months have passed since. Veach briefly touched on the situation in early May:
I think in the next few weeks here the Orlando Brown contract stuff will pick up and how that turns out may guide us in another direction in regards to what we can add before the season. It’s still a long offseason and like I said, when you have these drafts and all these players added, you’re going to have some counter moves and teams will start cutting players.
"The next few weeks here" could be the beginning of OTAs. Back in November, Conner Christopherson of Arrowhead Report outlined what a potential extension could look like. Things very well may have changed since then, although the general framework and logic still exists. Brown isn't a top-tier player at his position, however, the expected market for him could see him land in the top-five among his position in terms of average annual value (AAV) on a new deal. Whether that AAV reaches $20M remains to be seen, but it's possible.
Back to the voluntary element of OTAs. Holdouts are far from uncommon in the NFL, and there are such things as peaceful ones that don't turn hostile. The Chiefs have been patient with Brown, who didn't have an agent earlier in the offseason cycle and could still be working to hire one. By all accounts, he played at a solid level during his first season in Kansas City and both sides want to maintain their working relationship long-term. With that in mind, does it make a great deal of sense for Brown to participate in OTAs and risk an injury? Not in the slightest.
Aside from an injury risk, Brown could hold out from some or all OTAs for leverage. If he isn't present, perhaps that puts a bit of added pressure on the Chiefs to pick up the phone and accelerate talks for a new deal. It's unknown where the current state of those talks is, but an absence from a team event — even if it's voluntary — could raise the magnitude of the situation.
Regardless of whether Brown shows up to OTAs, the Chiefs will still need to work out a long-term extension with him. It would behoove him to have a soft "holdout" to prevent any potential injuries while also shifting the focus back to him (if that hasn't already happened). Don't be surprised if he doesn't participate, and don't take it as a shot at the Chiefs. Things like this happen in the NFL, and it's a business before anything else. Because both sides have yet to settle on a deal, the pressure is on.
For an extended conversation about Brown, as well as other Chiefs OTA storylines to watch for, check out Tuesday's episode of the Roughing the Kicker podcast with TJ Scott of Arrowhead Report.
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