There is a storm coming and Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft is just a fraction of what is to come. Tonight showed that the wide receiver market has become so inflated that teams would rather take a risk on young, unproven rookies than proven Pro Bowl-caliber veterans.
This is what Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and especially Christian Kirk have done. They have made teams unable to pay receivers what they are worth on the market and that is going to force several top-tier receivers to voice their displeasures and potentially sit out the season while they wait for an extension that the team doesn’t want to give them.
It’s been a big night for pass catchers as a record six wide receivers were taken in the first 20 picks (18 actually).
During tonight’s draft, two top receivers (as in the No. 1 receiver on their former teams) were traded away just one year before their rookie contracts expired. These are guys that were about to get paid, but their former teams didn’t want to pay them. We’re going to see a lot more of that in the near future. I promise you that, and it’ll be interesting to see how the wide receiver free agent market responds. For now, let’s go over those draft day trades.
While picks were being traded left and right, the Philadelphia Eagles dropped a bombshell on the NFL world, acquiring Tennessee Titans star receiver A.J. Brown in exchange for the 18th overall pick and a third-rounder.
Rumors were swirling that Brown was unhappy in Tennessee and wanted a Davante Adams/Tyreek Hill-esque extension done before the start of the season. While Brown never formally requested a trade like fellow 2019 second-round selection Deebo Samuel, it was up in the air whether or not Brown would show up to the team’s training camp without a deal done.
With the 18th pick, the Titans drafted a replacement for Brown in Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks. Combined with new receiver Robert Woods, the pair are theoretically just a younger, cheaper version of the aerial attack the Titans had last year. While Woods is not as talented as Brown and is coming off a torn ACL and Burks is unproven in the NFL, there is potential for the Titans’ wide receiver corps to be one of the most versatile and explosive in the AFC. From what we saw in 2021, Ryan Tannehill needs effective weapons in order to lead the Titans’ offense. It’s going to take a lot of work for Tannehill to develop new bonds with both Woods and Burks, but given the lackluster receiving corps found elsewhere in the AFC South, it shouldn’t take long for Woods and Burks to establish themselves as the premier corps of the division.
In another Draft Day move involving someone named Brown, the Baltimore Ravens were working up a deal that would send their former first-round pick Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown and the 100th overall pick were heading to Arizona for the 23rd pick.
According to Ian Rapaport, this move was a long time coming for the Cardinals. GM Steve Keim said after the deal was done that he liked Brown a lot coming out of college while the team was scouting Kyler Murray. This trade was somewhat expected. Brown had not been seen working out with other Ravens’ receivers or his quarterback Lamar Jackson during the offseason. Also, with Murray allegedly unhappy with the team currently, a reunion with his former top option at Oklahoma could be a smart move from the Cardinals. The team clearly wants to move forward with Murray in the future, and making Murray comfortable in Arizona will make it all the more likely that extension talks go over smoothly.
The Cardinals were looking for a replacement for Christian Kirk as well after Kirk conned the Jaguars into signing him to a four-year, $72 million deal. Brown is a solid replacement and should immediately slide into the team’s number two role in the passing attack behind DeAndre Hopkins. Although there is a chance that Brown could overtake Hopkins if his chemistry with Murray can be rekindled and Hopkins continues the decline we saw last year (although that was largely due to Hopkins playing through injury). As for Baltimore, the Ravens will now look for 2021 first-round selection Rashod Bateman to take a massive leap in his sophomore season.