For the Minnesota Vikings and their potential, alleged interest in trading for Orlando Brown Jr., this is jolting news:
A piece of interesting free agent news: #Steelers FA OT Alejandro Villanueva is set to visit the #Ravens this week, league source said. With some moving parts on Baltimore’s O-line, they plan to check out Villanueva in person.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 19, 2021
Brown has been linked to a number of teams via trade amid the last month — and the Vikings are one of them.
Foremost, the Baltimore Ravens employ one of the best left tackles in the NFL, Ronnie Stanley. He was a First-Team All-Pro left tackle in 2019 and then missed time due to injury in 2020. It was Brown that slid over to fill in for the injured Stanley. And the 24-year-old performed admirably, notching a 76.5 Pro Football Focus score in relief duty for Stanley.
Guess what? Left tackles make more money than right tackles. Therefore, Brown has made it known that he is indeed a left tackle — the spot he played in college at the University of Oklahoma.
I’m a LEFT Tackle.
— Orlando Brown Jr. (@ZEUS__78) January 29, 2021
So, the Ravens essentially have two left tackles, and Stanley isn’t going anywhere.
That’s how the Brown trade chatter was born.
Then on Monday, Rapoport dropped the tweet that the Ravens were hosting Alejandro Villanueva — another left tackle — for a free-agency visit. Why on earth would Baltimore explore Villanueva if Brown was staying put on the right side of the line?
The plot thickened, to be sure.
If the Ravens “don’t let Villanueva leave the building,” well, Baltimore has too many hungry tackles. It would confirm that Brown is probably on his way out via trade.
Enter the Minnesota Vikings.
At the moment, Minnesota has two left tackles that could maybe start and excel — Ezra Cleveland and Rashod Hill. The 29-year-old Hill is a reservist personality, so proclaiming him as a starter is a bit of a stretch. But this is the Vikings — solutions on the offensive line often end up as head-scratchers. On Cleveland, he was a left tackle in college before Minnesota whisked him to guard during his rookie season.
What Brown would offer at left tackle for the next several years is much more of a sure-thing than Cleveland or Hill’s trajectory. That’s why the Vikings are so frequently linked to Brown via trade talks — stability, after several years (almost a decade) of left-tackle mediocrity.
The cost is the interesting part. Bleacher Report recently spitballed this deal: The Vikings send the No. 14 pick, the No. 125 overall pick (4th Round), and a 2022 2nd-Round pick to Baltimore for Brown and the 27th pick in this year’s 1st Round.
That would probably be worth it. The Vikings retain a 1st-Round presence in the draft in 2021, get Brown as a stalwart LT, and sacrifice 13 spots on the draft, plus a 2nd-Rounder next year.
Trading for Brown would kickstart an offensive line that feels like this for 2021:
(LT) Orlando Brown, (LG) Mason Cole / Alex Leatherwood-type / FA like Trai Turner, ( C ) Garrett Bradbury, (RG) Ezra Cleveland, (RT) Brian O’Neill.
Consider that an upgrade from 2020 [and, like, the nine years before that].