By Dave Skretta
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Andy Reid isn’t sure when Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. will report to training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs.
For that matter, neither is Patrick Mahomes.
The Chiefs quarterback said Friday he has exchanged text messages with his blindside protector all offseason, even though Brown skipped all team activities while negotiating a contract. But with the deadline passed for a deal to get done, Brown is left with the prospect of playing this season for about $16.7 million under the franchise tag.
Until he signs that tender, though, Brown doesn’t have to report to Missouri Western State University.
“You want him to be here, I mean, just because of the guy he is,” said Mahomes, who reported along with the other QBs and rookies for a couple of days of work before the rest of the team shows up Monday afternoon.
“But at the same time,” Mahomes said, “when it comes to money and then contracts or stuff like that, I’ll never kind of force you to do anything, because I know you’re trying to provide for your family long-term. But as a teammate, as a friend, you want him to be here and be part of this. You want him to be out here and in the building and together.”
The Chiefs offered Brown a six-year, $140 million contract with more than $30 million guaranteed at signing, which would have made him one of the league’s highest-paid left tackles. But the rest of the guaranteed money in the deal wasn’t what Brown and his new representatives were seeking, so they allowed last week’s negotiating deadline to lapse.
Now, it’s up to Brown to prove this season — just his second at left tackle — that he’s worthy of that kind of money.
Skipping the start of training camp probably isn’t the best way to get started.
“I would tell you, when you miss, you miss,” Reid acknowledged. “I mean, it’s hard to make that up. That’s just logical. To say he doesn’t have a foundation — he has a great foundation of plays that we run and the things we do. But he’s missed all off OTAs and all the new stuff that we put in. And that’s where he would have to catch up.”
Reid said that left guard Joe Thuney is capable of sliding to left tackle, though that just leaves another spot open along the offensive line. Other options include Geron Christian, a former third-round pick who started 14 games over the past two years in Houston, and fifth-round pick Darian Kinnard, who played right tackle at Kentucky.
None of them provides Mahomes with the same sense of comfort as Brown, though.
“He’s one of the smartest football players I think I’ve ever played with,” Mahomes said. “He has a high IQ. I mean, even when he wasn’t at OTAs, he’d be asking me questions. He’s watching the film, doing everything to make sure that when he starts here, he’s ready to go. And I think that comes with having his dad playing in the league. He’s been around the sport for his whole life. And you ask anybody on this team, he’s one of the best guys on the scene.”
In other news, Reid said right tackle Lucas Niang is recovering from knee surgery, cornerback Rashad Fenton is rehabbing after shoulder surgery and wide receiver Justyn Ross is out for the start of camp following foot surgery.
All of them are expected to land on the physically unable-to-perform list.
In more positive injury news, second-round draft pick Skyy Moore — who is expected to help the Chiefs overcome the loss of Tyreek Hill — said he was fully recovered from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss most of the offseason.
“I’m fully ready to go,” Moore said. “I felt like it was just a bit of like, the transition from combine prep to the season. It was like, a little over use. But that’s all behind me now. I’m ready to contribute.”
Indeed, Moore was all smiles Friday, even though his first NFL training camp got off to an inauspicious start.
“I actually forgot everything I had,” he explained. “I had to wake up at 3:30 a.m. for a 5 a.m. flight and I like, locked myself out of my hotel in Tampa. So I got to get my suitcase shipped overnight. So yeah, I forget everything. I guess I’m just going to rock out with the team gear and hopefully it’ll get here tomorrow.”