AJ Brown Trade

On the first night of the NFL Draft the Titans traded start receiver AJ Brown to the Eagles for the 18th overall pick as well as the 90th overall pick, in the third round. I’m sure that this was a shock to everyone; even the NFL analysts were shocked and appalled by this move. I remember watching the draft and seeing that the Titans were on the clock at 18 thinking that they had traded up. But, I saw that they were still on the board at 26 and I was racking my brain trying to think about what just happened. Then with the silence on commentary the analyst then revealed that AJ Brown was just traded. In that moment I was extremely upset and didn’t understand this move. After having some time to process this the next day this trade does make more sense. However, even though this trade made sense I still wouldn’t have done it.

Firstly, let’s talk about the trade itself and if the value was there. The Titans traded AJ Brown and received a first round pick and a third round pick. Earlier this offseason Davante Adams was traded for a first and a second round pick. Many would argue that Adams is a better receiver than Brown thus this trade was of fair value to both teams. I hate to admit it but I think that this was a fair trade for both teams in terms of value. I would’ve liked to have gained another late round pick to sweeten the trade for me if I were Jon Robinson.

After hearing Jon Robinson and Mike Vrabel go on record saying that they anticipate AJ Brown being a Titan for years to come and not being traded; those words are thrown out the window on draft night. Seeing this trade happen after hearing both Vrabel and Robinson say the opposite makes me really question Vrabel and Robinson’s trust after this. Do I believe that they both wanted AJ to remain a Titan yes, but at the end of the day AJ is no longer a Titans and I can’t help but feel a lost in trust in Vrabel and Robinson. Who knows, they’ve repeatedly said that Ryan Tannehill is our starting quarterback but then they drafted Malik Willis in the third round. Reports also came out recently saying that the Titans were looking to trade for Aaron Rodgers and or Deshaun Watson. Now obviously Robinson and Vrabel aren’t going to tell us everything. I just wished that they both would’ve been coy rather than say one thing then do the exact opposite.

The next thing I want to discuss is why this trade happened so quickly. AJ Brown is still under contract for another year and although it would be best to sign him sooner rather than later we still had time to sign him. Contract negotiations take time and it felt that the Titans gave up too quickly and wiped their hands clean too soon. I think that this gave them less leverage and keeping AJ would’ve been more beneficial in the long run. Now there seemed to be a lot that happened between both sides that ultimately led to AJ being traded but I really think that the Titans should’ve took their time through the negotiations and come to a resolution.

We’ve essentially replaced AJ Brown with Treylon Burks. Now it is unfair to compare Burks to Brown but that is the reality of it; he’ll forever be tied to AJ Brown’s name. We had a proven player in AJ Brown who we know fits in our system. We are hoping that Treylon Burks will fit into our system and grow and become a great player. Was the money that AJ demanded so outrageous we would risk a proven player for a new player with potential? How many receivers have the Titans drafted in franchise history ever worked out well for us? Kevin Dyson was pretty good but probably not great, Corey Davis was pretty good but never great, and Kenny Britt was pretty good but never great. No drafted Titans receiver has ever played quite as well as Brown has and it appalls me that we can so easily trade him away. I’m not saying that AJ Brown is the greatest Titans receiver ever but clearly he is one of the better Titans receivers and when we finally have a legitimate receiver we trade him. I don’t understand this, I really don’t.

I’ve heard people talk about AJ’s injury history. Now true that AJ does have some injuries in his young career but despite his injuries when AJ was on the field he produced. Before this trade people weren’t talking about AJ’s injury history and now that he is gone his injury history is suddenly a big deal. Another excuse I’ve heard was saving the money that would’ve paid AJ and getting a cheap replacement in Burks. Now on paper this does make sense but as I’ve previously noted Burks right now is an unknown commodity while AJ is a proven commodity. Do you really want to gamble that Burks can replace the production void left by AJ’s departure? In terms of money, the Titans put themselves in this cap situation due to the roster moves of acquiring Julio Jones and restructuring Ryan Tannehill’s contract. The Titans took on Jones’s contract and had to release him to save money; a move that cost us a second and a fourth round pick for not nearly the production we expected when the Titans traded for him and it wasn’t even completely Julio’s fault for how his time was in Tennessee (a topic I’ve already covered). To accommodate for Jones’s contract Tannehill’s contract was restructured which now leaves him as an asset we cannot trade nor cut because of his ridiculous cap hit.

What does this trade send to the locker room? I want to get paid or trade me? If someone of AJ Brown’s caliber was so easily traded is nobody really safe. Should the players or fans trust the front office’s word from now on? What about the locker room dynamics; how do the players feel now that one of their own is gone just like that. I’ve written in the past about how Tannehill seems to not have the best rapport with some receivers and AJ was by far his best receiver he had rapport with so this trade affects Tannehill. Despite what you might think about Tannehill he now has to carry a much larger burden because his top receiver is now gone. Derrick Henry will also have to carry a much larger load now as well. We all know that this offense runs through Derrick but having AJ being able to take some pressure off of Derrick certainly helped him as well.

At the end of the day franchises don’t let cornerstone players walk out the door. AJ Brown was definitely a cornerstone piece to this team and trading him away comes at a huge risk despite what things might look like on paper. The Titan’s superbowl window is open right now and trading away AJ closes this window even more so now (a topic that will be discussed further at a later date). Jon Robinson took a huge risk with this trade and I sincerely hope it works out well for us because from where I’m standing I don’t like the outlook for this team.