Chiefs releasing tackles Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher will make it harder for Ravens to trade Orlando Brown Jr.

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Matthew Stevens
·3 min read
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Baltimore RavensOrlando Brown Jr. has made it clear he views himself as a left tackle and wants to start on that side, going as far as requesting a trade to make it happen. Unfortunately, the Kansas City Chiefs releasing top tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz on Thursday is going to make Brown’s dream significantly harder to achieve this offseason.

The Chiefs, who were significantly over the 2021 NFL salary cap of $182.5 million, were effectively forced to part ways with Schwartz and Fisher to become compliant. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the moves will free up around $18 million but still leave Kansas City a little over the salary cap. However, the moves could mean just as much to the Ravens and Brown this offseason as it does the Chiefs.

If Brown is dead-set on leaving and Baltimore is willing to make it happen, the Ravens could get quite the haul thanks in part to his level of play and his low 2021 cap hit. But the biggest reason for Brown’s potentially high trade value had just as much to do with the scarcity of top talent available. As one of the premier positions in the NFL, top offensive tackles don’t become available very often — either by trade or in free agency — and this offseason was no different prior to Thursday.

With the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars using the franchise tag on tackles Taylor Moton and Cam Robinson respectively, the available options in free agency were pretty limited before the recent cuts. Considering several teams will be boasting new franchise quarterbacks this upcoming season, pairing them with a young, Pro Bowl offensive tackle is a no-brainer, making Brown the cream of the crop at the position this offseason. But with Schwartz and Fisher hitting the market, teams now have other viable options that will likely be far more economical.

While trading for Brown makes sense for quite a few teams, a deal would come with a pretty big cost. With all the leverage, Baltimore doesn’t have to give Brown away and likely has a minimum requirement before it’d be willing to pull the trigger on a trade. As I’ve projected before, that could be as high as a first-round selection, potentially seeing multiple picks get exchanged if there’s a bidding war for Brown’s services. That price tag is undoubtedly enough to scare some teams away by itself and that’s before getting to the fact Brown is in the last year of his rookie deal, meaning his new team would have to work out a hefty contract extension as well.

While Brown is really good, the financial and draft costs were likely going to be pretty big hurdles already. But with Schwartz and Fisher now available — and not counting against the compensatory pick formula since they were cut — teams can simply go sign a top offensive tackle without having to trade valuable draft picks for Brown, likely lowering his value significantly or at least removing some interested teams from the conversation.

The Ravens would undoubtedly want to keep Brown around for as long as possible, so a smaller market might just work in their favor. While Brown wants out, he doesn’t have any leverage to demand anything. Though he hasn’t indicated he’d hold out for a trade, a holdout would do no favors for his value and the hefty fines could be enough incentive against even trying it. If the minimum Baltimore wants in return isn’t met, Brown might not have much of a choice and might have to play a season at right tackle until he can hit free agency and cash in that way.

It’s going to be an interesting coming months with regards to Brown’s trade request. We’ll see if the addition of Schwartz and Fisher to free agency dries up Brown’s trade market or if there’s a team out there still desperate for his services.

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