Offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Cincinatti Bengals Wednesday that will include $43.5 million guaranteed. Brown is expected to be an important addition to the team’s offensive line, which has made gradual improvements to protect quarterback Joe Burrow since his rookie season in 2020.

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After four years at the University of Oklahoma, Brown entered the NFL in 2018 as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, the same team his father played most of his career for at the turn of the century. Brown Jr. played there from 2018 to 2020 before he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021. Now a four-time Pro-Bowler, he proved to be a valuable asset for the Chiefs and protected Patrick Mahomes on the way to a Super Bowl this past season.

After the announcement, Brown posted an old video on Twitter of ESPN analysts criticizing him before the 2018 NFL Draft. He also expressed excitement to begin working in Cincinatti.

“Put this on repeat, let it sink in. Been below the line,” Brown said on social media after the announcement. “No stripes earned in this business from pretending. I’d bet the house on me and my work ethic. Can’t wait to get to work!!”

Signing Brown to a long-term deal is an obvious sign that the Bengals are attempting to fine-tune their roster, one that came up just short against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game last season. Though the team’s offensive line has been better in recent seasons, Burrow is still sacked at a steady rate in relation to the rest of the league.

Improvements along the offensive line have proven successful for many Super Bowl contenders recently. Following a crushing loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, the Chiefs overhauled their line and coincidentally traded for Brown during that effort. It was one of several moves that eventually helped the team win another championship. Meanwhile, the Rams’ 2021 Super Bowl team allowed the seventh-fewest sacks that season. In 2022, they allowed the third-most and missed the playoffs.

Offensive linemen are often among the most underappreciated players in the NFL and are typically only recognized for doing a poor job. But players like Brown can make the difference for teams on the cusp of championship contention.

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