The Baltimore Ravens have a rare luxury that many teams in the NFL wish they had with two young, franchise-caliber offensive tackles.
However, that fortune has also caused a potential issue, as tackle Orlando Brown Jr. voiced earlier this offseason that he wants to stay at his natural position of left tackle. Brown, who played right tackle from 2018-2019, slid over to left tackle for the balance of the 2020 season after Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But Stanley, whom the Ravens locked up last October with a five-year, $98.75 million contract, is set to be the team’s left tackle for years to come. This long-term commitment to Stanley, combined with Brown’s desire to once again play left tackle, has put the Ravens in a conundrum this offseason.
“I’ve always developed the philosophy of let’s keep as many good players as we can for as long as we can,” former New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins general manager Randy Mueller said on Glenn Clark Radio Feb. 18. “They have two really good young tackles. I don’t think they should punish themselves for that.”
If the Ravens are unable to work out a long-term contract with Brown, or if he refuses to play right tackle, trading him becomes a more likely possibility. The 6-foot-8, 345-pound tackle has started in 42 of 48 career games and hasn’t missed a snap in each of the last two seasons, proving to be an extremely durable piece of the offensive line.
With that in mind, the Ravens should only move Brown if they receive “a crazy offer” for Brown, according to Mueller. He believes that the Laremy Tunsil trade between the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans shortly before the 2019 season is a great blueprint for the Ravens to follow.
In that deal, the Texans acquired Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills for two first-round picks as well as a second-round pick. However, Mueller only believes that the Ravens should consider trading Brown after exhausting all other avenues.
“I think from a professional standpoint they should still try to find a way to make it work,” said Mueller, who was the Saints’ GM from 2000-2001 and the Dolphins’ GM from 2005-2007. “If the kid just refuses to play and that’s the only spot he’s going to play you might have to look at some other options down the road.”
The risk in not conducting a trade is that Brown could leave the Ravens for significantly less value after next season, provided he plays in 2021. His rookie contract expires at that point and he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. The Ravens would be awarded a third-round compensatory pick at most if he signs with another team in free agency.
“If that’s the lesser of the value [than] if they would’ve tried to trade him, so be it,” Mueller said. “That’s the cost of doing business.”
Ultimately, the Ravens have a very talented roster all built around their franchise quarterback, Lamar Jackson. Having both Brown and Stanley long term would give the team two young anchors on the offensive line for their quarterback, who will presumably receive a long-term contract extension this offseason or next.
“It’s a tough spot, they’ve got to build it around [Jackson], the quarterback they’ve chosen,” Mueller said. “I think I would sleep a lot better knowing my two [offensive tackles] have been firmed up, even if I have to pay them excess money.”
For more from Mueller, listen to the full interview here:
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