Proposed Trade Sees Ravens Send Former First-Round WR to Chiefs

John Harbaugh Ravens

Christian Petersen/Getty Images Head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens watches from the sidelines during a game against the Las Vegas Raiders on September 13, 2021.

A few weeks ago, ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell pitched a trade involving Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown, and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson took to Twitter to emphatically reject the idea. But that didn’t deter Barnwell from including Brown in yet another proposed deal, part of his recent assemblage of proposed mock draft trades that includes several exchanges involving the Ravens.

Under the framework suggested by Barnwell, the Ravens would send Hollywood Brown and a fourth-round pick (No. 141 overall) to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a 2022 first-round pick (No. 29 overall), as well as a fifth-round pick in 2023 and wide receiver Mecole Hardman.

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Barnwell’s Rationale From a Ravens Perspective

“Brown is a valuable player and a talented wideout, but the Ravens just signed (tight end) Mark Andrews to a big contract and used a first-round pick on Rashod Bateman last year. Given the leap in the wide receiver market, their run-heavy focus on offense, and the likelihood they are going to need to go year-to-year with franchise tags for Jackson, can they really justify paying Brown more than $20 million per year on a new deal?” wonders Barnwell, before suggesting that Hardman “would be a lesser version of Brown on a cheaper deal.”

Both Brown and Hardman were selected early in the 2019 NFL Draft, and both have appeared in a similar number of games, so a direct statistical comparison has a certain amount of relevancy. Brown was selected No. 25 overall and has 195 catches for 2,361 yards and 21 receiving touchdowns in 46 games (41 starts), according to Pro Football Reference.

Hardman, a former second-round pick (No. 56 overall) out of Georgia, has 126 career receptions for 1,791 yards and 12 touchdown catches, an average of 14.2 yards per reception, this as compared to Brown’s career average of 12.6. His best year came when he was a rookie, when he made the Pro Bowl on the strength of scoring six touchdowns and averaging 20.7 yards per reception.

But it’s hard not to think that this proposed trade has more upside for the Chiefs, who “can unlock more out of Brown than the offense we saw in Baltimore,” offers Barnwell, in part because of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the nature of Kansas City’s pass-oriented offense.

Barnwell also questions whether Brown has been consistent enough to warrant an extension from the Ravens.

“We’ve seen him deliver explosive games, but his best performance is still the one we saw in his NFL debut, when he cooked (Steelers All-Pro free safety) Minkah Fitzpatrick for 147 yards and two touchdowns in 2019,” he concludes. “Brown has been inconsistent and failed to top 60 receiving yards once during the second half of last season, when he was without Jackson.”

A Trade With the Cardinals, Too?

For what it’s worth, Barnwell’s column also includes a second proposed trade involving the Ravens, one that has Baltimore dealing first- and fourth-round picks (No. 14 and 141 overall) to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a first- and second-rounder in 2022 (No. 23 and No. 55 overall), plus a 2023 fourth-round pick.

“Baltimore would get to add an extra second-rounder by moving down, where it can address the front seven more cost effectively,” writes Barnwell, explaining his rationale.

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