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Hollywood Brown trade a home run for the Cardinals

Johnny Venerable Avatar
April 29, 2022

For the first time since selecting Kyler Murray back in 2019, Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim absolutely aced his first-round draft pick.

Dealing away pick 23 for Ravens’ receiver Hollywood Brown and an additional third-round selection (pick 100) is an example of Keim accurately forecasting what an already underwhelming draft had to offer within it’s first 32 selections. Rather than sit ideally by hoping and praying that a tier two talent fall to the Cardinals, Keim spent the better of this week orchestrating a deal that would reunite his franchise quarterback with his college teammate and best friend.

“We got a guy that was thirteenth on our board coming out (in 2019),” said Keim during his Thursday night press conference. “I had a very strong feeling that the board was going to fall the way that it did and I’m awfully glad we made this trade.”

Keim wasn’t kidding, as shortly after the trade for Brown was announced somewhere around pick 15, an influx of players connected to the Cardinals were swiftly snatched up by other clubs picking well before Arizona. From Jahan Dotson, to Treylon Burks, Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green, it was a complete and utter bloodbath of prospects that were once projected to reach the Cardinals. Thankfully their general manager, who has been rightfully criticized for his hesitation to move around during prior first-rounds, put together a deal that immediately makes the Cardinals better.

The move also fits the narrative that Keim is almost certainly better off trading assets for proven NFL talent compared to assessing college prospects. After blockbuster deals for Pro Bowlers Chandler Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Rodney Hudson and Zach Ertz, it’s hard to be critical of Keim’s track record. Especially when you consider that his primary rival within the NFC West, the Super Bowl Champion LA Rams, almost exclusively flip their top picks for proven star players.

“It was not a knee jerk reaction (trade),” said Keim. I wanted this player.”

Hollywood Brown now enters an Arizona receiving core as the unquestioned number two pass catcher behind All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins. His ability to take the top off the defense was something that both Keim and coach Kliff Kingsbury coveted, especially with the loss of Christian Kirk earlier this offseason. The former Oklahoma Sooner also gives Keim and company financial flexibility with Brown only on the books for roughly $2.2 million for this coming season. Keim confirmed that the team would be picking up Brown’s fifth-year option that will pay him $13.5 million come 2023, a figure that is well below market value for a receiver of his caliber.

Brown has been a good, not great, player in Baltimore with reasonable analysis suggesting that his best football is still in front of him. After spending his entire career in the frigid elements of the AFC North, Brown now enters a division in which he’ll play the large majority of his games in ideal weather conditions. One could also make the argument that Brown and his potential was somewhat limited in a Baltimore offense that was almost completely run dominant. So much so that Brown himself approached the Ravens about moving on this offseason.

Even with the added upside surrounding Brown, perhaps the biggest cue for Arizona brass is what this trade will do for the organization’s relationship with Kyler Murray. It’s no secret that Murray keeps tabs on personnel offensively, with the most notable example coming in 2020 when he openly campaigned for the Cardinals to draft his former Sooner teammate CeeDee Lamb. In reuniting Murray with his another former teammate and current “best friend“, the Cardinals are showing their fanbase a belief that both of these individuals are going to be cornerstone players for this organization for years to come.

Compare that to the likes of Baltimore, with Lamar Jackson taking to twitter to show his obvious displeasure in losing his top target.

In a draft with so much uncertainty, exiting the first-round with added clarity that Murray and the Cardinals are likely to make it work feels like a win within itself. Throw in the addition of an ascending NFL player at a position of need, coming off 90 catches, and Cardinal fans can take solace in this team’s direction after a somewhat tumultuous offseason.

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