The Tennessee Titans "simply weren't comfortable" with paying former star wide receiver A.J. Brown what he wanted before the Philadelphia Eagles traded for the ex-Ole Miss star during the NFL draft.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler shared details Monday:
"In the weeks leading up to Round 1, we were hearing that the Titans were adamant about keeping Brown long term. There was no tangible feeling about him leaving. But things became clear during draft week—and most definitely on the night before the trade—that the Titans simply weren't comfortable paying Brown what he wanted. As rapper Fat Joe says, yesterday's price is not today's price. Brown 's value was only going up. The Titans were probably resigned to this fate earlier but held out hope until Philadelphia got aggressive in the 18 to 24 hours or so before the draft. I'm told that Brown largely did not expect to be traded until the day of the draft."
The Eagles dealt the No. 18 and No. 101 overall draft picks to Tennessee for Brown and signed him to a four-year, $100 million extension (including $57 million guaranteed).
Brown was entering the final year of his rookie contract. He caught 185 passes for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns over his three years in Tennessee, per Pro Football Reference.
Both Brown and Titans general manager Jon Robinson said that money was the primary obstacle prior to the trade.
"This wasn't my fault," Brown told ESPN's Turron Davenport. "I wanted to stay, but the deal they offered was a low offer. The deal they offered wasn't even $20 million a year."
Brown told Davenport that the Titans' best offer was for $16 million per season with incentives that could have raised it to a $20 million average.
Robinson told reporters that the gap between what the Titans offered and what Brown wanted was too big to get a deal done:
"These are the decisions I am faced with, and they are hard decisions. There's a lot of discussion that goes into them, a lot of thought that goes into them. At the end of the day, we have to make—I have to make—the hard decisions. And there's a lot of things that impact those decisions. Certainly, the finances impact the decisions and trying to get value when we can. And that's the decision we made today."
In Philadelphia, Brown will pair with DeVonta Smith to potentially form one of the NFL's best wide receiver duos. Brown already has a great off-field rapport with Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The Eagles made the playoffs last year at 9-8, but adding Brown along with some key defenders (Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean, Haason Reddick) upgrades their 2022 outlook.
With the 18th pick, the Titans selected Treylon Burks out of Arkansas to help reload at wide receiver following the Brown deal. Tennessee also added Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods in free agency and UCLA's Kyle Philips with a fifth-rounder.
The Titans offense will look drastically different with two of their biggest weapons in Brown and Julio Jones (released) gone. Tennessee also may have its future franchise signal-caller on the roster after adding Liberty's Malik Willis in the third round.