The defending Super Bowl champions are addressing a need with a surprising decision.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars OT Jawaan Taylor is signing a four-year, $80 million deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source. Taylor will receive $60 million in guaranteed money in his new contract, per Rapoport.
Taylor's signing raises a few eyebrows regarding compensation, past performance and fit with his new team. Taylor joined the Jaguars as a second-round pick out of Florida in 2019 and has since manned the right tackle position at a respectable -- but far from spectacular -- level that would warrant top-five money at either tackle position. Faced with an obvious need and equipped with a coach in Andy Reid who has been able to maximize offensive line talent in the past, Kansas City ignored these concerns, adding Taylor to an offensive line that has seen plenty of changes in recent years but has continued to perform at a high level.
Kansas City engaged left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. -- who was franchise tagged in 2022 -- in contract negotiations over the last year, but failed to make considerable progress and declined to tag him for a second straight year. As the start of the new league year grew closer, the chances of the two sides striking a deal became increasingly unlikely. The Chiefs' agreement with Taylor all but guarantees Brown will not be in Kansas City in 2023.
Interestingly enough, the second-year tag would have landed around $20 million per year -- quite close to the amount Taylor will make on average over four years. The initial investment in Taylor will prove to be more economically friendly over time, of course, but it also speaks to differences in how Brown is viewed by NFL evaluators. Four straight Pro Bowls and a clean performance in Super Bowl LVII against a defense that came close to setting a new record for sacks apparently wasn't enough to convince the Chiefs to increase their offer enough to satisfy Brown's wishes. Instead, the Chiefs are taking Taylor at a rate they deemed too high for Brown (at least without some long-term security included).
Taylor's average annual salary of $20 million would make him the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL, but as NFL Network's James Palmer reported, Taylor will likely shift from RT to LT in Kansas City, filling the spot previously occupied by Brown. At that rate, Taylor will rank fourth in average annual salary behind San Francisco's Trent Williams, Green Bay's David Bakhtiari and Houston's Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil's name was mentioned amid the free agency frenzy as a potential replacement for Brown in Kansas City, but that would've required a trade, with the LT under contract with the Texans through the 2023 season. On paper, the pairing makes sense, but Tunsil has also expressed a desire to sign a new deal that would make him the highest-paid left tackle in football, which wouldn't quite fit the Chiefs' current approach, especially with the team handing Taylor $80 million over four years.
Brown, meanwhile, heads to the open market as a talent who is expected to field multiple offers from teams seeking help at the most valuable position up front.