Bears 2023 free agency profile: LT Orlando Brown Jr.
NFL free agency will be here before we know it, and the Chicago Bears have plenty of work to do. Luckily, general manager Ryan Poles has $100 million to work with to bring in some impact players as he looks to retool the roster.
Here at Bears Wire, we’re highlighting some potential free agent targets and breaking down their 2022 performance and whether or not they’re a fit in Chicago.
First up is left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who’s arguably the best offensive lineman currently set to hit the free agent market and would upgrade the Bears offensive line. But Brown’s also a prime candidate to receive the franchise tag from the Kansas City Chiefs.
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4 sacks, 10 hits, 44 hurries, 58 pressures, 7 penalties (17 games)
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After Brown and the Chiefs couldn’t reach a long-term deal, Kansas City placed the franchise tag on him. The two sides weren’t able to get a long-term deal done, so Brown played on the tag in 2022. Brown was the anchor for the Chiefs offensive line during their Super Bowl LVII run, and he earned his fourth consecutive All-Pro nod last season.
You have to figure the Chiefs will want to have him back in 2023. Chiefs GM Brett Veach said the franchise tag is “an option” again, but the hope is they’ll be able to work out a deal before the March 7 deadline. But if Brown does hit free agency, he’ll be the most highly sought offensive tackle on the open market.
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You can make the argument the Bears could have an entirely new starting five on the offensive line in 2023, and they have the resources to make it happen both in free agency and the NFL draft. There are concerns across the offensive line, but tackle has to be a priority for Poles, especially when it comes to protecting Justin Fields, who was sacked a league-high 55 times in 15 games in 2022. Not only is there a gaping hole at right tackle, but there are questions about who will be suiting up at left tackle. While Braxton Jones showed promise in his rookie season at left tackle, if there’s an opportunity to upgrade at any position, Poles is going to take it.
Fit with Bears
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The Bears are going to spend top money to shore up the offensive line in free agency, so why not go out and land a premium player like Brown? If Brown hits free agency, he’s the best offensive tackle option on the board, and he’s someone who’s been solid in pass protection and has managed to stay healthy. After Brown was traded to the Chiefs in 2021, he’s started all 33 games and earned two All-Pro and Pro-Bowl nods. Brown, who’s just 26, has only allowed 14 sacks in nearly 3,000 pass-blocking snaps in five seasons, according Pro Football Focus.
He’s everything Chicago is looking for in a left tackle. But with an obvious need at right tackle, could the Bears opt to focus on addressing that need and moving forward with Jones — or adding a rookie in the NFL draft — at left tackle? Not to mention, it certainly feels like the Chiefs aren’t going to let Brown hit the free agent market.
2023 free agency profiles
We’re highlighting some potential Bears targets in free agency this month:
LT Orlando Brown Jr.
DT Javon Hargrave
RB Saquon Barkley
DE Marcus Davenport
DT Dre’Mont Jones
RT Mike McGlinchey
CB Jamel Dean
OG Ben Powers
DE Yannick Ngakoue
LB Tremaine Edmunds