The blockbuster trade for A.J. Brown stole all the headlines during Round 1. Instead of sitting back and waiting for an unknown rookie like Treylon Burks to fall, the Philadelphia Eagles made a calculated move for a proven Pro Bowl receiver. It was a stroke of genius, but one that almost didn’t happen.
Late Thursday night, after all 32 picks were completed, Howie Roseman detailed the events leading up to the trade. The Eagles’ general manager was on the phone with Brown’s agents trying to negotiate a contract extension up until the last minute.
“It was getting tight, it was really getting tight,” Roseman said, “and we were just trying to balance it all and I’m just fortunate to have a great staff.”
They finally hammered something out at about the same time the Texans selected Kenyon Green at No. 15. Three picks later, it was completed and the Titans chose Burks.
“The hardest part was balancing it all in the time that we had,” Roseman told reporters, “and trying to be fair to the Titans as well, that obviously they had to make a pick and get on the clock if we were going to make this trade.”
Contrary to belief, the trade wasn’t contingent on any rookie receivers rising or falling. Roseman had zeroed in on Brown due to the Eagles’ previous interest in him during the 2019 draft, plus Brown’s relationship with Jalen Hurts made the move a slam dunk.
“A.J. Brown was somebody that we had studied coming out [in 2019], spent a lot of time on and we had a lot of love for A.J. Brown in that draft,” Roseman said. “Obviously things went a different way in that draft. Real excited to get him just in terms of how Coach [Nick Sirianni] can use him and his vision for A.J. Brown in this offense and how he complements the other guys that we have here. And as you guys may or may not know his relationship with our quarterback, all exciting things and looking forward to getting him into Philadelphia.”
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Sirianni Knows Brown’s Tape Better Than Most
Nick Sirianni is all too familiar with Brown from his days coaching against him in the AFC South. Brown spent his first three seasons in Tennessee (2019-21); Sirianni was the offensive coordinator for Indianapolis (2018-20). He has watched a ton of tape on Brown over the years, which helped guide the decision to trade for him.
He knows everything that the one-time Pro Bowler brings to the table. In fact, Sirianni walked out of the room when Roseman first turned on Brown’s tape to gauge his interest. It wasn’t because the Eagles’ head coach wasn’t interested. He just didn’t need any more convincing.
“He plays with great play strength, this is a strong man, you know he’s quick for a big guy and he catches everything,” Sirianni said. “Those are things that really stick out from his tape, and there’s no projection there, right? You don’t say, ‘Well this is what’s he’s going to be in the NFL.’
“No, you’ve seen it, right? You’ve seen it and you’ve seen it for three years now and it’s just exciting to put on his tape and watch him. He’s going to help us become a better football team.”
No Guarantee Against Injuries in the NFL
Brown is coming off a 2021 campaign where he battled multiple injuries, including knee, hamstring, chest, and calf ailments. He still caught 63 balls for 869 yards and 5 touchdowns in 13 games.
While some want to paint the portrait of an injury-plagued receiver, Roseman was quick to point out that Brown is very young. He’ll turn 25 on June 30, right before training camp begins. The Eagles’ medical staff did their due diligence and saw nothing that worried them.
“Listen, there’s no guarantee or insurance on any of this stuff but we know what kind of player he is,” Roseman said. “We know what kind of competitor he is, and we know what he adds to our football team, and with anything you do there is risk. But that’s who were going to be. We’re always going to be aggressive. We’re always going to take shots on guys we believe in and we believe in A.J. Brown.”