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Should the Jets Break the Bank For Free Agent LT Orlando Brown Jr.?

Former Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. is one of the best offensive linemen available in free agency this offseason.

With $49.1 million dollars of available salary cap space, should the Jets consider signing former Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.? 

That is the type of question that may be weighing on the minds of Jets’ management, as we near the beginning of free agency.

Brown (son of the late legendary offensive tackle Orlando Brown Sr., a.k.a. “Zeus”) has followed in his dad’s footsteps and has become a top-rated offensive lineman in his own right. He is currently the No. 9 ranked free agent by Pro Football Focus. The only higher ranking offensive tackle in free agency by PFF is the Saints’ LT Terron Armstead (ranked as the No. 2 free agent prospect overall). 

Both are expected to command around the same annual salary ($20-$21 million). However, outside of that, there are two major differences between them. Armstead will be 31-years-old by the start of next season, while Brown will be 26. The other difference is Armstead has only played in 97 career games since coming into the league in 2013, while Brown has not missed any time with any injury since becoming a starter in 2018 for Baltimore. 

Brown was a third-round draft choice of the Ravens in 2018, where Baltimore saw him as a right tackle. Brown wanted to play on the left side and was traded from Baltimore to Kansas City. The Chiefs gave up a first, third and fourth round pick for Brown in 2021, and a fifth-rounder in 2022. All that for Brown, who played in 2021 in the last year of his rookie contact. 

Brown is now about to become a free agent, which could create a unique opportunity for the Jets. 

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson took a beating in his rookie season, and ended up being sacked 44 times. Eventually, the hits added up and Wilson missed four games with a knee injury.

Wilson was the third most sacked QB in the NFL in 2021, behind Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow (51) and Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill (47). 

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Ironically, Cincinnati has been mentioned—by FanSided—as being the most likely destination for Brown outside of signing an extension with Kansas City. However, that does not mean the Jets’ money isn’t just as green. It could even take a higher offer ($23-$25 million per) than what Kansas City or anyone else has on the table. 

Brown’s dad “Zeus” came into the Jets for a visit during my time in pro scouting with the team. I will never forget meeting him. 

Our Pro Scouting Director at the time, Scott Pioli, called me into his office. 

I walked in and saw this huge man sitting in Pioli’s office. Pioli said, “Meet Zeus!” I reached out to shake his hand and I am not kidding, my entire hand disappeared, and part of my arm. It was like shaking hands with someone wearing a baseball catcher’s glove. 

Kansas City Chiefs LT Orlando Brown Jr. blocks pass rusher
Kansas City Chiefs LT Orlando Brown Jr. blocks pass rush

With Jets left tackle Mekhi Becton looking more like a bust by the day, I feel like New York needs to address the LT position, either through the draft with Ekwonu or through free agency with Brown. 

The Jets need one or the other, if they want to keep Wilson standing. 

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