The Baltimore Ravens gave up a disgruntled player but nonetheless a young and talented member of their receiving corps on Day 1 of the draft, and they’re still reeling from the pain.
Earlier this offseason, Marquise Brown told Eric DeCosta he wanted out of the Ravens franchise. The 24-year-old had been frustrated by Greg Roman’s run-centered offense ever since the end of his second year, and a few in Ravens camp, including Lamar Jackson, reportedly knew all the facts before the trade was made.
Brown recently told SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio: “The system just wasn’t for me personally…It was just something I had to think about for myself.”
Now that one of his closest friends on the team is gone, Jackson’s contract situation seems ever so slightly more precarious, though Jackson likely understood Brown’s decision to leave.
The Ravens aren’t in the business of holding onto players that don’t want to be there, and Brown did not want to be there any longer. Brown was spotted in Arizona at the Cardinals’ draft party on the first day of the draft and has reportedly only worked with Kyler Murray this offseason.
While Baltimore outright fleeced the Cardinals with the Brown trade, the franchise created one more gaping hole on the roster at wide receiver, along with the other position needs the team has yet to address like cornerback and the EDGE.
The Ravens have every reason to grieve over the loss of Marquise Brown
From one perspective, the Ravens could not have possibly created a better outcome out of all this. Rather than chain an unhappy player to the roster for the upcoming season, Baltimore found a willing trade partner and secured a first-round pick for a solid but not spectacular player.
We were quietly crossing our fingers that DeCosta would continue spinning yarn into gold and turn that first-rounder, plus other draft capital, into a sneaky trade for 49ers’ Deebo Samuel, but the Tyler Linderbaum pick makes sense.
Given Baltimore’s recent efforts to improve its passing offense, though, trading away their top receiver does not help Lamar Jackson in any way, not in the short term.
In the past three years, Brown was criticized for his inconsistent play, his drops, and his lack of big-play ability, but make no mistake, Brown embodied the best wide receiver on the Ravens roster with perhaps his most productive years ahead of him.
In 2021, he put together a career-high 1,000-yard receiving season and added six touchdowns, and he was targeted just seven fewer times than Mark Andrews.
Which receiver will take over Brown’s share? Certainly not Rashod Bateman, who only has four starts under his belt after an injury-riddled rookie season. The others — James Proche, Devin Duvernay, and Tylan Wallace — also lack experience, and they don’t boast much upside, either.
Heading into Day 2, the Ravens have a deep class of wide receivers to pick from (Christian Watson, Skyy Moore, George Pickens all seem reachable), but none of the rookies can make the same dynamic impact as Brown would have in 2022.
Baltimore should be over the moon about their two first-round selections in the 2022 NFL Draft, but they have every reason to grieve, too. Marquise Brown’s presence is and will be greatly missed.