In his first public comments since tackle Orlando Brown Jr. began his social-media lobbying campaign to be a left tackle, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta offered no information about any trade discussions regarding Brown, and he said there is no timeline for resolution of the situation with free agency looming.
Speaking March 9 in a video news conference that is traditionally held at the NFL Scouting Combine, DeCosta said Brown is “under contract and he understands that. We’ll do what’s best for Orlando and we’ll do what’s best for the team.”
Brown, who turns 25 in May, is entering the final year of his rookie deal with the Ravens this fall. He made his first Pro Bowl in 2019 as the team’s starting right tackle, then shifted to left tackle midway through the 2020 season after Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury and earned another Pro Bowl nod.
After the season, Brown tweeted, “I’m a LEFT tackle,” suggesting that he has no desire to return to the right side of the line and expects any second contract to reflect that. Left tackle is considered the premier offensive line position, given that it protects the blind side of a right-handed quarterback, and left tackles are paid accordingly.
Yet Stanley, the former first-round pick who signed a five-year, $98.75 million extension just days before his injury, figures to return to that spot as soon as he’s healthy and hold it for the foreseeable future.
“I had a dream when I was 6 years old to be the general manager of an NFL team,” DeCosta said. “I think Orlando’s dream has always been to be a left tackle in the NFL like his father.” (Brown’s father, Orlando Sr., played for the Ravens for six of his nine NFL seasons, making Brown the franchise’s first second-generation Raven.) “So that’s just how he envisions his career playing out. We’re blessed to have him on the team.”
Since Brown’s tweet, speculation has swirled that the Ravens would look to trade Brown. The Jacksonville Jaguars were considered a potential trade partner given their cap space and draft capital, but they gave the franchise tag to left tackle Cam Robinson. The New England Patriots, another potential suitor, traded for tackle Trent Brown.
“These things take time sometimes,” DeCosta said, noting that he’s been in touch with Brown’s agents and that “a lot of different scenarios” could play out.
If the Ravens don’t strike a deal, Brown would return for the final year of his rookie deal, and head coach John Harbaugh said he has no concerns about Brown’s approach in that case.
“Whatever the situation dictates, however it plays out, I’m sure he’ll be at his best next year,” said Harbaugh, who also met with the media on March 9.
Brown’s hazy future with the team has complicated an already muddled offensive line picture. The line has been instrumental in the Ravens’ dominant run-first offense that during the past two years has set several NFL records, including the most rushing yards in a single season (3,296) in 2019. But the Ravens started three different players at both center and right guard this past year, and neither spot has an established starter entering training camp.
In addition, questions persist about Stanley’s availability at the beginning of the season as he recovers from what Harbaugh revealed were two different surgeries to repair his ankle injury. Harbaugh said Stanley is “on schedule” to return by the beginning of the season, “but if not, as you all know, we have a left tackle who can play … until he gets back.”
Despite free agency looming — the so-called tampering window can begin March 15, with free agency officially beginning two days later — and the draft a month after that, DeCosta said he has put no firm timetable on any resolution with Brown’s situation.
DeCosta figures to listen to offers, but the team retains the leverage with Brown under contract, and DeCosta has every right to expect a strong return for a two-time Pro Bowl tackle who isn’t yet 25.
“It’s all really about what’s best for the club,” DeCosta said. “That’s how I look at everything we do. What’s best for the club? How does the club win?”
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