OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens honored wide receiver Marquise Brown’s request for a trade and turned it into an opportunity to improve their roster.
Baltimore traded Brown and the 100th pick — third round, compensatory — in the 2022 NFL Draft to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for the 23rd overall pick, which they used for center Tyler Linderbaum.
Brown was in the final year of his rookie contract. Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta had said the team would pick up his fifth-year option in 2023 worth $13.4 million, but the situation changed.
That move was lauded as the Ravens’ best offseason move by Pro Football Focus.
The Ravens subsequently traded down from pick No. 23 to No. 25 in the 2022 NFL Draft, adding the No. 130 pick from the Buffalo Bills. So, all told, Baltimore gave up Brown and pick No. 100 for Picks 25 and 130. The 25th overall pick was then used to select Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, whose 95.4 overall grade in 2021 was the best mark ever given to a center since PFF started grading college games.
Baltimore was able to come out of the first round with safety Kyle Hamilton and Linderbaum while saving a ton of future investment at wide receiver, a position that has obviously undergone a substantial market explosion.
This isn’t a knock on Brown, who’s coming off a career-best 91 reception, 1,008-yard season, but it resembles the tough decisions good franchises have to make to sustain success. The Ravens avoiding top-of-market paydays on Marquise Brown and tackle Orlando Brown Jr. while adding elite talent on rookie contracts will go a very long way in keeping a talented roster around quarterback Lamar Jackson if (when) he finally agrees to a big-money extension.
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Brown was quarterback Lamar Jackson’s best friend on the team and his favorite target at wide receiver.
The Ravens did reach out to Jackson before the trade.
“Actually, Coach [Harbaugh] called me,” Jackson said. “It was after a workout, and I was like, ‘OK,’ [and] I’m just listening to him. But he was like, ‘We’re thinking about trading him’ and stuff like that, but I didn’t buy into it. It was just conversation, and when it actually happened, I was like, ‘What the …’ But it’s all good. It’s part of the business.
“I was kind of hurt, because that’s my boy. But it’s all good. Like I said, it’s part of the business.”
In 2021, Brown and tight end Mark Andrews each eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards. It was just the second Ravens tandem to reach the 1,000-yard mark in the same season, joining Michael Jackson and Derrick Alexander who accomplished that feat in 1996.
The Ravens will need to equal that production.
Rashod Bateman is expected to emerge as the Ravens’ No. 1 wide receiver this season. Baltimore also has several other wideouts with potential, including Devon Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace.