The surprising draft-day trade of Marquise "Hollywood" Brown was no surprise to the Ravens. It was months in the works.
General Manager Eric DeCosta explained Thursday night that Brown requested a trade after the season ended. The Ravens obliged and DeCosta worked out a deal with the Arizona Cardinals in the week leading up to the draft.
"That's a complicated topic," DeCosta said. "For me personally, complicated because Marquise was my first pick and one of my favorite guys on the team. But Marquise came to me after the season and requested that he be traded. He was not happy and wanted to play elsewhere.
"It was something I anguished over for a long time. He would tell you that he and I had many conversations throughout the Spring. I always say the club has to win. This was a situation where it was going to be impossible for the club to truly win, but we try to do what's best for the player."
The Ravens drafted Brown 25th overall in 2019, giving Lamar Jackson a deep speed threat. The two South Floridians grew close on and off the field, and rode together after every game.
Brown clearly knew that the trade was coming Thursday night because he was already in position to attend the Cardinals' draft party
Jackson, however, seemed to be more surprised by the move.
Brown was the Ravens' leading wide receiver last season, hauling in 91 passes and topping 1,000 yards for the first time. In his three seasons in Baltimore, Brown posted 195 catches for 2,361 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Now, last year's first-round pick, Rashod Bateman, steps into the leading role in the wide receiver room. He's been working out with Jackson this offseason and is eager to have a breakout second season. Baltimore will lean on him and other young talents including Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace, in addition to All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews.
DeCosta could draft another wide receiver this weekend, and he said there are options in free agency.
The wide receiver market has exploded this offseason, with elite wide receivers being traded instead of receiving contract extensions. The Tennessee Titans also traded their star wide receiver, A.J. Brown, during Thursday night's first round.
The value of wide receivers likely helped the Ravens recoup a first-round pick for Brown as he was set to enter his fourth NFL season and Baltimore was going to have to make the decision of whether to give him a large extension.
In Arizona, Brown reunites with his former college quarterback at Oklahoma, Kyler Murray. The Cardinals deploy a heavy passing attack with frequent deep shots that should complement Brown's skillset well.
"I hope the best for Hollywood, I really do. I hope he's in the Pro Bowl," DeCosta said. "But I also think this guy that we drafted [center Tyler Linderbaum] is going to be in Pro Bowls too. That would be a heck of a thing."