TEMPE, Ariz. — In a move to improve their offense and appease their quarterback, the Arizona Cardinals traded their first-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday in exchange for wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and the 100th pick in the draft.
Upon hearing about the trade, Murray texted Cardinals general manager Steve Keim fireball emojis. Keim said he didn’t discuss the possibility of trading for Murray’s former teammate with the quarterback because of the “sensitivity” of the discussions with Baltimore.
In the midst of a contentious offseason between the Cardinals and Murray, who wants a contract extension sooner now that he’s eligible for one following his third NFL season, Keim hopes the trade for Brown appeases his star quarterback.
“It better,” Keim said. “A lot.”
The Ravens acquired the 23rd overall pick in the deal but moved further down in a trade with the Buffalo Bills, who sent the 25th pick to Baltimore and then selected Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam at No. 23.
The Ravens, who also received pick No. 130 in their trade with the Bills, then selected Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum with the 25th pick.
Keim has had his eyes on Brown since he came out of Oklahoma in 2019. He noticed the speedy receiver while scouting Murray, listing him 13th on Arizona’s draft board that year and going as far as meeting with Brown during the pre-draft process. When Brown started to fall in the first round three years ago, Keim said he tried to trade back into the first round to draft him but wasn’t able to pull off the move.
Thursday’s deal has been in the works for “quite some time,” Keim said. In his 10th year as the Cardinals’ GM, Keim, who signed an extension this offseason, said he had a “very strong feeling” that the first round would fall the way it did but added that the trade would have happened regardless of how Thursday unfolded.
“It made sense in so many ways for me and to lose a guy of the caliber of Christian Kirk obviously hurt,” Keim said. “But, to be able to add a guy like this is, particularly again in today’s market with the numbers where they’re going and to have that two years of controlled costs and to have the vertical threat that he provides, is really big.”
The Cardinals plan on picking up Brown’s fifth-year option, Keim said.
Keim described Brown’s speed as “bombs over Baghdad, he can fly and he is a legitimate playmaker.”
Since he entered the NFL, Brown has had 2,361 yards and 21 touchdowns in 46 career games. He’s coming off a career-best season in which he had 91 receptions and 1,008 yards. Arizona has had just one 1,000-yard receiver since 2017.
Keim was also impressed with Brown’s durability, having missed just three games in three years, and his hands.
Both Brown and Murray were drafted in 2019, with Murray going first overall to the Cardinals and Brown going 25th overall. In 2018, when Murray was the Sooners’ starter and won the Heisman Trophy, Brown had 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns on 75 catches.
Murray tweeted to Brown: “Let’s run it back! Hollywood to the desert… Y’all welcome my boy!”
Let’s run it back! Hollywood to the desert… Y’all welcome my boy! @Primetime_jet 🔥🥋🚀
— Kyler Murray (@K1) April 29, 2022
Brown, 24, was productive but inconsistent in his three seasons with the Ravens. He totaled 195 receptions for 2,361 yards and 21 touchdown catches.
Last season, he became the first Baltimore wide receiver to surpass 1,000 yards receiving since Mike Wallace did so five years ago. But Brown finished with more dropped passes (seven) than touchdown catches (six).
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said Brown requested a trade at the end of the season, saying he was unhappy and wanted to play elsewhere.
“It’s a complicated topic,” DeCosta said. “It was something that I anguished over for a long time. He would tell you, he and I had many conversations throughout the spring.”
According to DeCosta, the Ravens and Cardinals had agreed on a trade earlier this week.
“I always say the club has to win, and this is a situation where it’s going be impossible for the club to truly win,” DeCosta said. “But we do what we think is best for the player. We try to accommodate players when we can; I’m sensitive to that. He would say that he feels happy, which is good. And we made the best of the situation as a club. We used that pick wisely. We got an excellent player and I hope when we look back at this, we’ll see that it’s a tough situation. I hope [Brown’s] in the Pro Bowl, but I also think that this guy that we drafted is going to be in Pro Bowls too. And so that’ll be a heck of a thing.”
Brown was Lamar Jackson’s closest friend on the team and frequently hung out together in the offseason. DeCosta said the Ravens informed Jackson about the trading of Brown before the deal was made “to explain the situation as best we could.”
“It’s challenging for everybody,” DeCosta said. “Our locker room is very close, which I’m proud of if coach would say. And, so anytime a teammate is potentially getting traded, it’s something that’s hard for the players to understand at times. But I think in the end, it’s part of the business”
Brown tweeted a goodbye to Jackson on Thursday night, writing: “Wish I coulda played with my brotha forever but ima see you at the top @Lj_era8.”
Wish I coulda played with my brotha forever but ima see you at the top @Lj_era8 🤞🏿💯
— Hollywood Brown (@Primetime_jet) April 29, 2022
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said after the season that the team would pick up Brown’s $13.4 million option, but Baltimore never officially did.
With Brown traded, the Ravens’ top wide receivers are Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace. So, wide receiver becomes a need for Baltimore.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley and Alaina Getzenberg contributed to this report.
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