After the Ravens made a surprising move by selecting Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton with the 14th overall pick of the 2022 NFL draft on Thursday night, another eye-popping move came soon after.
The Ravens traded wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and a third-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 23 overall pick, which they later sent to the Buffalo Bills for the No. 25 pick and the No. 130 pick in the fourth round. The Ravens used the 25th pick to select Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum.
Brown, who was shipped to Arizona along with the No. 100 overall pick, was the Ravens’ leading wide receiver last season. He was coming off a career year, finishing with 91 catches for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns despite an injury-hampered season for quarterback Lamar Jackson.
General manager Eric DeCosta told reporters after the first round Thursday night that the Brown trade was a “complicated topic.”
DeCosta said Brown requested a trade after the 8-9 season, stating “he was not happy and wanting to play elsewhere.”
Brown started raising speculation about his future in Baltimore in February when he removed the Ravens’ name and logos from his social media accounts.
“Wish I coulda played with my brotha forever but [I’ll] see you at the top,” Brown tweeted at Jackson after the trade.
Brown’s trade to Arizona appeared to have been in the works before the draft as he appeared at the Cardinals’ draft party soon after the trade was announced.
“We agreed earlier this week and we had a way of going about it that wouldn’t bother him,” DeCosta said.
DeCosta mentioned that he and coach John Harbaugh talked to Jackson before the trade. DeCosta said the locker room is very close, which made trading Brown challenging for everyone.
“Anytime a teammate is potentially getting traded, it’s something that’s hard for players to understand at times, but I think in the end, it’s part of the business,” he said.
DeCosta said in February that the team expected to exercise the fifth-year option on Brown’s rookie contract, which would’ve kept the former first-round pick in Baltimore through at least 2023. Brown was picked No. 25 overall in 2019, DeCosta’s first year running the Ravens’ draft.
“I think very highly of Marquise,” DeCosta said at his season-ending news conference. “I think he’s a talent. I love his personality and his competitiveness and his passion. … I like his energy that he brings and quite honestly, for his skill set, for what he brings to the table, the fifth-year option, in my mind, if you look at receivers and what they’re making now, it looks like a bargain. He’s just a nice piece, and honestly, if we didn’t bring him back, we’d be trying to find another receiver.”
DeCosta mentioned Brown had plenty of upside, saying “he hasn’t played his best football.”
Brown, however, had different plans.
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“I think we got a good trade I think and we got an excellent player,” DeCosta said of using the No. 23 pick to trade back to No. 25 and take Linderbaum. “I hope the best for ‘Hollywood.’ I hope he is in the Pro Bowl.”
At the Cardinals’ draft party, team president Michael Bidwell stood next to Brown and addressed the crowd.
“I know it’s something that Hollywood wanted. You’ve been expressing that. And the discussions between Eric DeCosta, the GM of the Ravens, and [Cardinals GM] Steve [Keim] really heated up over the last couple of days,” he said. “So we were pretty excited about it and the whole key was to keep it quiet until we got to the 14th pick. I snuck up to Las Vegas this afternoon, picked up Hollywood and his girlfriend and got him down here just in time [after] the trade went through.”
The trade marks the Ravens’ first move back into the first round since 2018, when they traded up to No. 32 overall to select Jackson after taking tight end Hayden Hurst No. 25 overall.
The Ravens now have six fourth-round picks in this year’s draft (Nos. 110, 119, 128, 130, 139 and 141).
With the Ravens trading away Brown, no starters remain from their 2019 draft class, the first under DeCosta. Fellow wide receiver Miles Boykin, a third-round pick, was released earlier this month, while outside Jaylon Ferguson, the No. 85 overall pick, has recorded just 4 1/2 sacks in three seasons.