NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Wide receiver A.J. BrownIn shock, he walked off of the field, his head down. Cincinnati BengalsCelebrate their 19-16 Victory over the Tennessee TitansIn the divisional round last season.
Brown's departure from Nissan Stadium as a Titans player was his last. Brown’s departure to the Philadelphia Eagles via a trade Thursday is something not many would have predicted at season’s end.
Not general manager Jon Robinson. Not Mike Vrabel, coach.
Draft night is when the Titans moved BrownThey chose the 18th overall pick and the 101st overall. They finally used the 18th overall pick. ArkansasReceiver Treylon Burks.
How could a player Vrabel, who said “wouldn’t be traded so long as he’s the head coach”, go from Philadelphia's cornerstone franchise to Philadelphia?
The split between Brown's Titans team and his isn't like other breakups. The problems began when Brown refused to participate in voluntary offseason activities. He also stated that he wouldn't be able to walk on a field unless he was granted a contract extension.
There are always two sides of a story.
Brown was entering his final year on his rookie contract. He was due to be paid around $4 million. His 869 receiving yards in the last season was a career low but they still accounted for 23% to Titans' receiving yards.
Brown witnessed the receiver market explode in this offseason.
- Tory Dandy Brown's agent, negotiated a three-year $60 million deal with $40 million guaranteed. Tampa Bay BuccaneersWideout Chris GodwinAnd a three-year, $60,000,000 contract extension Los Angeles ChargersMike Williams is the receiver
- The Jacksonville JaguarsSigned former Arizona CardinalsReceiver Christian KirkTo a 4-year $72 million deal with $37 Million guaranteed.
- D.J. MooreThe Carolina PanthersThe three-year, $61.884 Million extension included $41.61 million guaranteed.
- Receiver Davante AdamsA trade was made between the Green Bay PackersThe Las Vegas RaidersSigned a 5-year contract worth $141.25 Million.
- The Kansas City ChiefsTransferred Tyreek HillThe Miami DolphinsHe was quickly signed to a four year, $120m extension by, making him the highest-paid NFL receiver.
- The Buffalo BillsFollowing suit, All-Pro signed a wide receiver Stefon DiggsTo a four-year extension of $104 million contract with $70 million guarantee.
Brown witnessed the action and wanted a salary like a top receiver in the NFL.
“I wanted to be appreciated for my work.” Brown stated that this was all he wanted when he was made an Eagle. “I'm one the best guys in the league. I am confident in my game and what I bring.
Brown stated to ESPN that the Titans offered Brown an average of $16 million per season, with incentives that would have driven the annual average up to $20 million.
Brown said that it wasn't his fault. “I wanted the opportunity to stay, but they offered a low deal. They didn't offer $20 million per annum. If they offered $22 million per year, I would have stayed.
Brown stated that he has no bad blood with the Titans, and thanked them for draft him to help his career get started.
Side of the Titans
Early March saw preliminary contract negotiations between Brown's team and the Titans for an extension of the combine. Robinson shared a timeline with the owners at meetings later in March.
Robinson stated that Robinson is currently trying to make it through the free-agency period and see where we land cap-wise.
Robinson complimented Brown's hard work and said that the fourth-year receiver was “about what they are about.” Vrabel praised Brown for his growth as a man and father.
According to sources within Brown's camp as well as the Titans, negotiations were moving along smoothly. The range of $20 million to $20 million per season was likely the sweet spot.
The market boomed after Kirk was signed. Brown's camp stated that he would only be able to play for the team if he signed a new contract.
I'm a diva, and a terrible teammate all of a sudden, lol.
— AJ Brown (@1kalwaysopen_) April 18, 2022
According to a team source, the Titans were motivated by the demand to speed up their process. A team source stated that Brown was offered an extension by the Titans, which would have averaged $20 million per year without any incentives.
It believed it was fair, as it paid Kirk a higher salary than Kirk. The average annual salary was $20 million. Brown's team offered a counteroffer that was an average of $25 million higher and $80 millions in guarantees.
Robinson stated, “I dealt with them,” after the first day. “We went back and forth over the past two to three weeks, and realized that the gap was too large for us to bridge.
According to a team source, Brown asked for a trade and stopped all contact with Titans — including his wide receiver coach — three weeks prior to the draft. The Eagles had been closely monitoring the situation and saw their chance.
“There were two of them.” [of]Robinson stated that Robinson was most impressed with the draft day response from teams who called. “The trade idea came about naturally from them. We started to work on that probably in 18-20 hours. Then it all came together very quickly this afternoon.”
Brown signed the agreement he desired, and he was granted his wish to become a member of the Associated Press. four year, $100 million contractWith $57.2 million guaranteed
Eagles GM weighs In
The trade was made contingent on Brown signing a contract extension. Howie Roseman, Eagles general manager, called Brown his quarterback. Jalen HurtsTo ask him if he could help speed up the process and seal the deal,
Hurts and Brown have a strong friendship. Brown was recruited out of high school by Hurts to join him at Alabama. However, Brown decided to stay in Ole Miss.
Brown stated in his news conference, that he had spoken to Hurts earlier in the day. However, Brown became quieter as the decision was closer because he wanted to keep his emotions out of the situation.
“We were just kind of trying to balance finishing that, and if we didn't finish that, making sure we also got the right players,” Roseman said. “For us, A.J. Brown was someone that we had studied and spent a lot time with. We loved A.J. Brown in that draft.”
It was down to the wire. Roseman and Brown’s camp struck a deal during pick 15. The Eagles were running out of time and needed it to be done before pick 18. Roseman was clearly seen entering and exiting the draft room prior to the pick. He then moved into a private area down the hall, apparently working on a deal.
“The hardest part was trying to balance it all and the timing that was going on and trying to be fair to the Titans as well,” Roseman said. “Obviously, they needed to pick up and move quickly if we wanted to make the trade.
“A lot of credit to A.J. A.J. and his agents for getting the deal done. This wasn't something we could do for weeks. It really kind of came about quickly here.”
It means for Tannehill
Losing Brown means quarterback Ryan TannehillHis No. Since Week 7 of 2019, he has been without his No. 1 target.
Brown and Brown have a combined total of at least 1,000 yards in receiving (including playoffs), and have led the Titans' receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns.
Tannehill described Brown as “professionally, it hurt.” He was a top target. A great football player, he made big plays every year for us. It was a painful experience for me. A.J. A.J. It's going to be difficult to not be able to visit him daily. He got what he wanted and I am happy for him.”
It’s no surprise the Titans drafted Burks, who is the same kind of sturdy, yards-after-catch receiver as Brown.
Robinson said, “The more time we spent with Treylon and the film and dug in to it, we felt he did a lot physically that we like”
Burks stated that he learned a lot from Brown's game and applied it to his own game at the combine. Burks will have the chance to demonstrate what he has learned against Brown.
This season, the Titans will travel to Lincoln Financial Field in order to take on the Eagles. Burks will be able to demonstrate why he is a Titans player, while Brown will attempt to prove Tennessee what they lost when they trade Brown.
This report was contributed by Tim McManus, ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter.