Friday's NFL: Chiefs get Ravens star OT Orlando Brown for draft picks
Kansas City, Mo. — Just about everyone knew the Kansas City Chiefs were going to address their offensive line through the NFL Draft.
Nobody quite expected them to do it a week before it even started.
The Chiefs plugged the biggest hole on their AFC champion roster Friday when they acquired two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown from the Ravens for a package of draft picks, including the No. 31 overall selection this year.
Both teams announced the trade, which will not become complete until Brown passes a physical.
The Ravens will get the 31st pick Thursday night, along with third- and fourth-round picks this year and a fifth-round pick next year. The Chiefs will get the Ravens’ second-round pick next week and a sixth-rounder in 2022.
“Teams continually tweak and update and revise that board, knowing where they can attack it,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said during a Zoom call earlier Friday. “I think that mid-two-to-early-three area is going to be a hot zone.”
Turns out that Day 2 depth was one of the reasons Veach was willing to let go of the No. 31 pick.
The Ravens had been expected to trade Brown since late January, when he took to social media to emphatically state that he was a left tackle rather than right tackle, where Baltimore wanted him to play going forward. And while the trade gives the Ravens two first-round picks, they likely will need to use one of them on a replacement on the right side.
The biggest surprise, though, may have been the trade partner. Baltimore essentially sent one of the league’s best players at one of the game’s premier positions to their biggest barricade toward making it back to the Super Bowl.
“There’s been certainly dialogue with various teams and we have a couple things on our radar,” Veach said about four hours before the trade, “but nothing there we’re ready to move on in any direction. But we’re always going to continue to have dialogue with teams and make sure we have all the information, and we can assess whether this move would be a better alternative than staying put and either moving up or moving down.”
The Chiefs have spent the offseason rebuilding an offensive line that was decimated by opt-outs and injuries by the end of last season, when they were dominated up front by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Super Bowl rout. But most of the work in free agency had been along the interior of the line, leaving both offensive tackle jobs up for grabs.
The Chiefs released left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, both of whom had surgery for season-ending injuries, to save space under the salary cap. And that left many to assume they would draft an offensive tackle at No. 31.
Despite a draft deep at the position, the Chiefs decided to trade that selection among others for a sure thing.
The 24-year-old Brown, a third-round pick of the Ravens in 2018, has started 42 games and appeared in all 16 each of the past three seasons. He played on the right side his first two seasons but moved to the left following an injury to Ronnie Stanley midway through last season, and did not allow a sack in about 700 snaps at that position.
The acquisition turned out to be an aggressive backup plan after the Chiefs made a strong offer to Trent Williams in free agency. Williams chose to return to the San Francisco 49ers instead of signing with Kansas City.
Either way, the Chiefs were poised to enter the season with an entirely new offensive line protecting Patrick Mahomes.
They signed standout Patriots guard Joe Thuney in free agency, lured former All-Pro Kyle Long – who could play offensive guard or tackle –out of an injury-induced retirement and signed Austin Blythe to take over at center.
They also plan to have third-round pick Lucas Niang, who opted out of his rookie season, and veteran Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who likewise opted out so the trained physician could help COVID-19 patients in his native Canada.
“As we learned last year, you’re going to have situations where depth comes into play,” Veach said, “and obviously we’ll have opportunities to add offensive linemen this draft class, but just like we ran into issues up front on the offensive line, we can run into issues on the defensive line this year, or at corner or receiver. So, there’s a lot of stress to always add talent and make sure that the next-man-up philosophy is in place and we have the talent to do that.”
Thirteen prospects will attend next week’s NFL Draft in person.
One year after the entire draft was conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is attempting to return to some normalcy. Most of the 13 players coming to Cleveland are expected to be selected in the first round.
Five members of national champion Alabama will attend: quarterback Mac Jones, defensive lineman Christian Barmore, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, and receivers Jaylen Waddle and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.
Also accepting invitations were BYU quarterback Zach Wilson and North Dakota State QB Trey Lance; LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase; Miami edge rusher Gregory Rousseau; Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater; Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons; and Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.
An additional 45 prospects, including likely No. 1 overall selection quarterback Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, will participate virtually, the NFL announced. The draft’s first round is Thursday, with the second and third rounds next Friday and the final four rounds on May 1.
The NFL is modifying COVID-19 protocols for all personnel who have been fully vaccinated.
In a memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell to the 32 clubs, he cited the “advice of our medical and scientific experts” for the agreement to modify protocols to ”reflect the reduced risk of infection and transmission for fully vaccinated individuals.”
Effective immediately, fully vaccinated individuals in the NFL (players, coaches, staff and executives) are no longer required to be tested each day for the novel coronavirus. Instead, they must be tested weekly on a monitoring basis.
They also are no longer required to submit to lengthy “entry” testing following travel, and are not required to quarantine if identified as a “high risk close contact” with an infected individual.
… The Browns exercised the fifth-year contract options on quarterback Baker Mayfield and cornerback Denzel Ward, the respective Nos. 1 and 4 overall picks three years ago who have become integral to Cleveland’s new-found success.
Mayfield, 25, is the franchise QB the Browns have longed for, and now the club will consider signing him to a long-term extension. In the meantime, Mayfield is under contract for the next two seasons, with his 2022 salary guaranteed for $18.8 million.
The Browns had until May 3 to exercise the options on Mayfield and Ward, who will make $13.3 million in his final year.