Image this: Orlando Brown Jr. performs as marketed through the 2021 season and will get his giant extension subsequent offseason. First-year gamers Creed Humphrey and Lucas Niang earn beginning spots on the offensive line and play effectively as rookies. Trey Smith progresses properly behind the scenes and earns the beginning proper guard spot for the 2022 season after a redshirt yr.
On this best-case situation for the Chiefs, the offensive line for the 2021 season would appear to be this:
LT: Orlando Brown Jr., LG: Joe Thuney, C: Creed Humphrey, RG: Trey Smith, RT: Lucas Niang
The emergence of the three rookies on this iteration of the offensive line could be the final stage of the offensive line rebuild that began this offseason, and manifests itself in fascinating methods.
When Brown ultimately indicators his new contract, presumably subsequent offseason, the Chiefs could have two giant contracts on their offensive line. To pair with Brown on the left aspect, the Chiefs have already got Thuney inked to the biggest deal for a guard in NFL historical past (by common price per yr) and the third-highest wage cap hit amongst guards for the 2022 season.
Having two top-tier contracts on the identical offensive line looks as if a frightening activity when it comes to roster-building, however the groundwork has been laid for it to be manageable.
The excellent news is that the Chiefs can push out when Brown’s contract will actually kick in for some time. If wanted, the Chiefs can franchise tag Brown for a $16.5 million wage cap hit in 2022. If the Chiefs and Brown do come to phrases with a brand new long-term contract, then that deal can have a less expensive first yr in comparison with the remainder of the contract, as basic supervisor Brett Veach and his entrance workplace has completed with lots of their largest contracts, together with Thuney’s. This may make sure that Brown and Thuney’s offers is not going to be overwhelmingly giant till the wage cap begins to balloon.
One other approach Brown’s contract is mitigated on this best-case situation is by the three cut price contracts on the different beginning spots on the offensive line. This future is considerably proven this yr, with the Chiefs having the Twenty eighth-most-expensive offensive line within the league in 2021, spending solely $27 million in complete for all offensive linemen. When Brown is signed subsequent yr and Thuney’s cap hit steps up, the Chiefs will bounce from twenty seventh up into the highest half of the league in offensive line spending, however the Chiefs is not going to be anyplace close to the highest.
On this best-case situation, the Chiefs additionally could have the 5 gamers locked in for the foreseeable future.
Assuming Brown’s contract is greater than three years in size, the 5 gamers (Brown, Thuney, Humphrey, Smith, and Niang) on the offensive line will all be signed via the 2024 NFL season. That stability might be enormous for the Chiefs, who may be turnover elsewhere on the workforce. Throughout that point, it’s attainable that Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, Derrick Nnadi and different impression gamers go away the workforce. Having a secure unit to construct round just like the best-case offensive line is essential for roster constructing.
What would the scarier worst-case situation appear to be? A sensible, however worst-case, future for the Chiefs would include Brown being paid as a top-five deal with however taking part in like extra of an above-average deal with. Together with Brown’s contract being probably poor worth, there’s a good probability that each one three rookies is not going to work out and be future starters. On this situation, the Chiefs’ line will nonetheless want lots of work to be serviceable, even with two giant contracts already invested into the place group.
Whether or not the best-case or worst-case situation for the offensive line occurs this yr, the play of most of the new faces on the offensive line will drastically have an effect on the Chiefs and their teambuilding over the following 5 years. The expertise is there for enormous features, however nothing is assured within the NFL. So much will likely be realized about this new group of offensive linemen this yr, and if ceilings are reached, the Chiefs will likely be set as much as shield the franchise for years to come back.