If the Los Angeles Chargers are ever going to permanently unseat the Kansas City Chiefs atop the ultra-competitive AFC West, they need to make sure that they are firmly better than their red-clad rivals in the trenches. After one year with a suspect offensive line, KC beat LA to the punch and traded for Orlando Brown Jr.
While Brown was every bit the rock-solid tackle that he was in Baltimore, the Chiefs appear to be less optimistic about their chances to sign him long-term. According to FanSided's Matt Verderame, the $25 million that Brown is seeking on a yearly basis would make him the highest-paid left tackle in the game.
Jeffri Chadiha of NFL Network reported that the Chiefs are growing increasingly frustrated with Brown's inability to meet them in the middle and get a new contract. As the Chiefs descend into turmoil surrounding one of their key offensive pieces, Tom Telesco's restraint with regard to getting a Brown deal done is looking more admirable by the day.
The Chargers were able to save money and eventually set themselves up for success by drafting Rashawn Slater in 2021 and Zion Johnson in 2022. The left side of the offensive line could be taken care of for the next three seasons without the usual contract mud-slinging.
The Chargers are better off not trading for Orlando Brown Jr.
The Northwestern stud was a Pro Bowler and Second-Team All-Pro selection that came in fourth in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. Brown may have joined him on the Pro Bowl team, but he was once again left out from All-Pro discussion. Adding Johnson to the mix this year only makes LA stronger.
Imagine an alternate universe where Brown is in powder blue and the pick used to draft Slater was flipped to Baltimore. Not only would an AFC contender get even more potent, but LA would be broiled in another contract mess as they try to plan for the eventual Justin Herbert megadeal.
With Brown potentially leaving Kansas City now a real possibility, the Chargers should jump for joy if one of their primary rivals sent four premium draft picks (including Odafe Oweh) away in exchange for one above-average season of production.
In what promises to be a decade-long war between Kansas City and Los Angeles, any malcontent on KC's side of the field could boost LA's chances of being a contender. While Patrick Mahomes deals with injuries and holdouts on his line, Herbert can sit back behind Slater and Johnson with complete confidence.