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What could an Orlando Brown Jr. trade look like? Here are five possibilities for the Ravens. | ANALYSIS

The Ravens have never traded someone as talented and coveted as offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. In an ideal world, general manager Eric DeCosta wouldn’t have to. But there is nothing ideal about the situation his front office must now confront.

Over his first three seasons in Baltimore, Brown played mainly right tackle, earning Pro Bowl selections each of the past two years. But on Jan. 29, Brown tweeted, “I’m a LEFT Tackle.” His motivations, he later said, are familial: “I want to live out the dream my dad had for me,” he tweeted Friday. He pointed to an interview he’d done with The Baltimore Sun after he’d moved to left tackle following Ronnie Stanley’s season-ending ankle injury in November.

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“Growing up in my household, if you were going to play O-line, my dad didn’t want you being on the right side,” Brown had said. His father, Orlando Sr., played six seasons as the Ravens’ right tackle, and he’d told Orlando, “I want you to be better than me.” That meant playing on the left side, the premium side.

Because of the Ravens’ recent investment in Stanley, a 2019 All-Pro selection whose $22.5 million signing bonus makes a trade untenable, Brown’s dream will likely have to be realized elsewhere. DeCosta meanwhile, will have to maximize his value ahead of a season with Super Bowl potential. The Ravens are willing to listen to offers for Brown, according to the NFL Network, but only if their trade partner sends back a “major haul.” Otherwise, Brown’s expected to play out the fourth and final season of his rookie contract in Baltimore.

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He has only so much control over his future. Under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, players who fail to report to training camp by the mandatory reporting date lose an accrued season. In Brown’s case, a holdout this summer would render him a restricted free agent in 2022, meaning the Ravens could match any offer sheet he signed and, if not, likely be entitled to that suitor’s first-round pick. Brown could have to wait another year to hit the open market.

He can’t afford to wait. In a league where subpar pass protection likely cost the Kansas City Chiefs a Super Bowl title, Brown’s value has only risen. The average annual contract value of the NFL’s five highest-paid right tackles is $14.5 million, according to Over The Cap, headlined by Philadelphia Eagles star Lane Johnson’s $18 million-per-year deal.

At left tackle, where Brown did not allow a sack and surrendered just 16 pressures overall after replacing Stanley, according to Pro Football Focus, the price tag is even higher. Stanley’s five-year contract extension is worth $19.75 million per year, and that’s only the third-highest annual value. Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari’s November extension will pay him a league-leading $23 million annually, the fifth-highest rate in 2021 for a nonquarterback.

With quarterback Lamar Jackson’s megadeal looming and other homegrown stars up for extensions, the Ravens already faced tough decisions over whom to retain, and for how much. Brown’s tweets add another variable to the calculus: If he’s not in the Ravens’ long-term plans, where does he fit into their short-term plans, if at all?

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With Stanley healthy and Brown back, the Ravens would have one of the NFL’s best tackle pairings next season. DeCosta said last month that they “believe in being a strong offensive line,” and struggles up front have doomed the Ravens in three straight playoff losses. There’s also the matter of depth; Stanley is expected to be ready by Week 1, but coach John Harbaugh called his ankle injury “pretty serious.” There’s no obvious in-house replacement for Brown, either, with Tyre Phillips and Patrick Mekari more equipped for interior roles.

But keeping Brown has its opportunity costs, too. Considering his credentials, age (he turns 25 in May), salary cap hit ($3.6 million in 2021) and the possibility of team control, the Ravens are certain to hear tempting offers. If they don’t deal him this offseason, the most they could acquire after parting ways in 2022 would be a compensatory 2023 draft pick, no higher than a third-round selection.

Even with a talented group of tackles in this year’s draft class, it’s not hard to imagine which teams might be interested in trading for a cornerstone left tackle. The Ravens’ biggest obstacle might be stomaching an in-conference trade. Here, in alphabetical order, are five trade possibilities.

Indianapolis Colts

Trade: Brown for Indianapolis’ No. 21 overall pick and 2022 second-round pick

Why it works: With Philip Rivers finally stepping away from the NFL, the Colts need a franchise quarterback. With left tackle Anthony Castonzo joining him in retirement, they also need a blindside bodyguard. If the Ravens want a cheap, ready-made replacement for Brown, they could potentially find a top-three tackle available at No. 21. Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins and USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker are all considered first-round prospects.

Why it doesn’t: The Colts have already shelled out for center Ryan Kelly. Right tackle Braden Smith looks like another foundational piece. And then there’s the matter of paying All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson, himself a potential left tackle. Would Indianapolis really pony up for a big deal for Brown, too? The Ravens, meanwhile, get a valuable draft pick they can use to take a replacement who, if they’re fortunate, will be only an above-average lineman in 2021.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Trade: Brown for Jacksonville’s No. 33 overall pick (second round) and WR D.J. Chark

Why it works: In Brown, the Jaguars get a Pro Bowl-level left tackle for Trevor Lawrence. In Chark, the Ravens get a Pro Bowl-level possession wide receiver who, like Brown, is entering the last year of his rookie contract. Plus, there’s a sweetener of a draft pick. DeCosta could find Brown’s replacement with either of his two second-round picks, drafting a prospect whose athleticism might keep him from first-round consideration, but whose ability at right tackle makes him a potential Day 1 starter.

Why it doesn’t: The Jaguars have four of the draft’s top 45 picks; why give up draft capital and their most talented receiver — not to mention cap space for Brown’s looming deal — when you can find another big-time left tackle on the cheap? The Ravens, meanwhile, get an injury-prone receiver they might not want to keep beyond 2021 and an offensive line that, without a good stand-in for Brown, is still diminished.

Miami Dolphins

Trade: Brown for Miami’s No. 17 overall pick and 2022 third-round pick

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Why it works: If the Dolphins take a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick — Brigham Young’s Zach Wilson? Ohio State’s Justin Fields? — they can install Brown as left tackle, kick Austin Jackson over to right tackle and move Robert Hunt inside to guard, potentially upgrading all three spots in one fell swoop. As for the Ravens, this is probably as valuable a first-round selection as they can get in a player-for-picks swap.

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Why it doesn’t: If the Dolphins don’t take a quarterback with their top pick, they’ll likely stick with Tua Tagovailoa, a southpaw whose blind side Brown wouldn’t protect. Would Miami really give up a mid-first-round pick for a player whom they’d be reluctant to pay like a high-end left tackle? Especially given the offensive line prospects who’ll likely be available at No. 17?

Los Angeles Chargers

Trade: Brown and 2022 third-round pick for Chargers’ No. 13 overall pick and EDGE Uchenna Nwosu

Why it works: The Chargers get blindside protection for Justin Herbert and another year with wide receiver Mike Williams, whose $15.6 million salary cap hit is more palatable on the Chargers’ 2021 budget than on the Ravens’. Nwosu, a 2018 second-round pick who had one of the NFL’s better pressure rates before a Week 11 shoulder injury last season, steps into a starting role in Baltimore. At No. 13, the Ravens can draft a top-tier prospect at any of their must-have positions.

Why it doesn’t: The Chargers can always take a chance on a first-round tackle, one who’s certain to be cheaper in the short term than Brown. Nwosu, despite his lack of starting experience (10 games in three years), is also maybe the only established defender who projects as an outside linebacker in the Chargers’ new 3-4 scheme. On the other side, the Ravens are loath to give up picks, even those a year away. Nwosu, meanwhile, is only a short-term solution at edge rusher, as he’s set to hit free agency next year.

Washington Football Team

Trade: Brown for Washington’s No. 19 overall pick and 2022 third-round pick

Why it works: Before Washington finds its next franchise quarterback, it needs to find its next Trent Williams. Depending on the team’s big board and 2021 aspirations, Washington might prefer to trade for an instant-impact left tackle rather than bank on a not-quite-elite rookie to seize the job. The Ravens get a high-value first-round pick and a useful 2022 asset.

Why it doesn’t: If Washington wants to keep All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff, it’ll take a big deal. And if Washington wants a trade for Brown to make sense, it’ll have to sign him to a lucrative contract, too. Given the team’s limited ceiling and collection of picks in this year’s draft, passing on Brown could be the prudent decision. The Ravens, meanwhile, even with two first-round picks, can’t ensure rookie-year success for either.

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