Titans deal A.J. Brown, overconfident in turning to Treylon Burks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It took the Tennessee Titans forever to find a premier receiver in the draft.

There were a ton of poor and mediocre selections between Derrick Mason in 1997 and A.J. Brown in 2019. The team built a reputation for its failure to discover talent at the position. 

Treylon Burks

Courtesy Arkansas athletics

In 43 games, he caught 185 passes for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns.

Faced with a disgruntled Brown, who wanted a payday after three seasons, the Titans dealt him to Philadelphia, who gave him a four-year, $100 million with $57 million guaranteed, per Ian Rapoport.

We'll need to see contract details to know the real total value, but the $57 guaranteed is obviously very good.

Philadelphia gave the Titans the 18th overall pick and 101 in the third round. (They later traded No. 26 and 101 to the Jets for No. 35 in the second round, No. 69 in the third and No. 163 in the fifth.)

The Titans used No. 18 on Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks, a receiver in the mold of Brown, though not as fast.

He’s 6-foot-2, 225 pounds and ran a 4.55.

His hands are so big he had specially made gloves.

"My high school head coach said it this morning," Burks said in a conference call with Titans media. "That the Titans were going to get me. I didn't believe him at the time, but when I got the call I was like, this dude was right."

Is Brown worth that contract?

He is to the Eagles, who moved up earlier in the draft to select defensive tackle Jordan Davis out of Georgia and drafted Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith 10th out of Alabama last year.

Brown was incredibly popular in Tennessee because of his combination of toughness and production. He frequently took short and mid-range passes a long way and gave the Titans an explosive element they lacked in the games he missed and for a long stretch before he arrived.

The Titans pointed up to give Harold Landry, their 2018 second-rounder, a second deal, but were not willing to do so for Brown a year ahead of free agency for him. He was scheduled to make under $4 million in 2022 and was not attending the team's current organized training activities, which have included only conditioning so far.

Dianna Russini reported he'd stopped communicating with the team. 

It's proactive for the Titans to make a deal and get a replacement now, but it's weak they didn't pay up. He may have made huge demands. It didn't mean they had to meet them. Deebo Samuel's mom recently recorded her son and Brown talking on the phone and Brown said the Titans wouldn't go over $20 million a year. 

That's fine at an early stage of negotiations. Was it written in stone? If so, why? In time, could they have had him for $22 million a year? How about $24 million?

It may have felt like he had all the negotiating power now, but come training camp, it would have cost him a non-refundable $40,000 a day to hold out. He would have shown up and he would have played. Surely Mike Vrabel and team leaders could have got him to behave.

Rich Eisen asked Vrabel if Brown was on the trade block on April 7.

"Not as long as I'm the head coach," Vrabel said. "I love A.J. professionally, personally. I've gotten to know him well as his coach and enjoy seeing him as much as I possibly can. ... As long as I am the coach here, I would want to have A.J. Brown on my football team."

I'll ask Vrabel about that shortly.

The move fits a frequent trend where the Titans put a value on a player and don't go beyond it. They didn't consider making bids to re-sign Corey Davis or Jonnu Smith last season and the market tookKuharsky megaphone those two well above what the Titans ever would have contemplated.

Brown, though, occupied a different level in terms of his production and meaning.

The Vikings dealt Stefon Diggs to the Bills and then hit a home run with Justin Jefferson in 2019. That's what the Titans are hoping for.

They were, however, a lot better team with their veteran receiver than Minnesota was. And they're awfully confident in themselves anticipating a similar result. 

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