NFL News & Analysis

2023 NFL Free Agency: Orlando Brown Jr. brings stability to the Bengals' offensive line

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown (57) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have signed the best left tackle on the free agent market.

Orlando Brown Jr. heads to Cincinnati on a four-year contract worth $64.09 million, a price tag that fell short of  PFF’s projections.

Brown gives the Bengals a proven pass protector with playoff experience who just won a Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs. He has never earned a pass-blocking grade below 74.4 in any of his five seasons in the NFL, and his 76.8 grade in 2022 was far superior to the mark put up by Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams (62.8).

Orlando Brown Jr.: Pass-blocking grades and rank since 2018 (postseason included)
Season Pass-blocking grade Rank
2022 76.8 23 of 89
2021 74.4 29 of 88
2020 77.8 25 of 86
2019 83.3 11 of 88
2018 75.1 37 of 83

Brown allowed just four sacks across 893 pass-blocking snaps in 2022 and was at his best down the stretch. From Week 11 through the Super Bowl, his 79.0 overall grade and 85.5 pass-blocking grade were top-12 marks among players at the position.

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Pass protection has been Cincinnati’s weakness since Joe Burrow’s arrival in 2020, and it has arguably cost the team two Super Bowl trophies.

Burrow is arguably the NFL's best pure passer when he is protected. In fact, his 96.0 passing grade from clean pockets is the best mark in the league since he was drafted in 2020. The problem is that Burrow has faced pressure on almost one-third of his dropbacks since entering the league, and he has taken 153 sacks over that time — 13 more than the next-closest quarterback. 

Brown’s signing now sets up the entire offensive line for greater success in 2023, and it will allow the unit to build off a year that showed promise when all five starters were healthy. 

Brown’s arrival also frees the Bengals up in the draft. They could still opt for an offensive lineman, but adding a top-10 left tackle allows them to focus on a dynamic tight end or defensive back if they choose to do so.

Cincinnati’s primary goal this and every offseason should be to support Joe Burrow. Signing the best tackle on the market accomplishes just that. Burrow has proven to be elite when protected, while Orlando Brown Jr. is a durable, proven pass protector.

The match couldn’t be more perfect, and it may be the most impactful signing of the entire offseason.

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