Cardinals trade top pick for Ravens WR 'Hollywood' Brown, former Kyler Murray OU teammate

Bob McManaman
Arizona Republic
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Steve Keim isn’t shy about seeking input from some of his team’s best players when it comes to the NFL draft. Over the years, the general manager has found it to be a valuable tool to help decipher which prospects might be a good fit for the Cardinals.

Quarterback Kyler Murray has shared his thoughts and personal preferences with Keim each of the past three years now, although Keim has joked Murray rarely, if ever, lists a defensive lineman, linebacker or defensive back among the names of his favorite players.

“I won't tell you what his wish list is, but he’s got one,” Keim said last week.

Murray had to be thrilled then after the Cardinals traded their first-round pick in the draft on Thursday night — the 23rd overall selection — to the Ravens in exchange for speedy wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Baltimore’s third-round pick (No.100 overall).

Murray and Brown were teammates at the University of Oklahoma. In 2018, when Murray won the Heisman Trophy and would go on to become the first player taken in the 2019 draft, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Brown caught 75 passes for 1,418 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Murray and Brown have been working out together in the Dallas area and as soon as Murray learned of the trade, he immediately texted Keim. What was the message?

“Texts of fireballs,” Keim said, referring to a series of emojis.

Ravens WR Marquise Brown (5) stiff arms the Chargers' Trey Marshall.

Two years ago, Murray lobbied heavy for Sooners wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, but the Cardinals used the 8th overall pick on linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Asked how much the acquisition of Brown should appease Murray, Keim said, “It better a lot.”

Brown, 24, is entering his fourth NFL season and to date, has 195 career receptions for 2,361 yards and 21 touchdowns. He set career highs with 91 catches for 1,008 yards last season while starting all 16 games he played. He was Baltimore’s first-round pick in 2019, going 25th overall.

Besides Brown’s obvious talent and ability to take the top off a defense because of his speed, Keim said “controlled cost” played a big factor in the deal because the receiver is under contract for two more years. He is due to make $2.1 million this coming season and his fifth-year option, which Keim said the Cardinals will pick up, will pay Brown $13.4 million.

The Cardinals already have eight wide receivers under contract, led by DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Rondale Moore. But by trading for Brown, they’ve added another playmaker who can immediately slide into a rotation at the top and offer a different type of target to Murray, Arizona’s two-time Pro Bowl selection.

Brown leaps ahead on the depth chart over Green and Moore and will fill the No.2 receiver spot in coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Other recevers on the roster include Antoine Wesley, Greg Dortch, Andre Beccellia and Andy Isabella, who has been given permission to seek a trade elsewhere because he likely will be released.

Thursday night’s trade had been in the works for some time, Keim confirmed, adding he had a feeling the top-rated wide receivers in this year’s draft class would all be gone by the time Arizona was set to pick at No. 23. He was right, too.

Sep 15, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) speaks to Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown (15) before the game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Four of the top five wideouts went in a span of five picks from numbers 8 through 12. The Falcons took USC’s Drake London at 8, the Jets nabbed Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson at 10, and following the second of three straight trades, the Saints selected Ohio State’s Chris Olave and the Lions landed Alabama’s Jameson Williams. Two more receivers also went before pick No. 23, as Jahan Dotson of Penn State went No.16 to Washington and Treylon Burks of Arkansas went No.18 to Tennessee.

Keim said the Cardinals had Brown rated as the 13th best player in the 2019 draft and were hoping to select him then by trading back into the first round to pair him with Murray that year.

“He is a guy that makes sense for a number of reasons,” Keim said. “No. 1, two years of controlled cost, getting a dynamic receiver who’s played inside, outside, obviously the chemistry with our quarterback and a guy who can be a dynamic vertical threat, which is something we were looking for, as well as I had a very strong feeling the board was going to fall the way it did and I’m awfully glad that we made this trade.”

Since entering the league in 2019, Brown’s 11 touchdowns of 20 or more yards are tied for third in the NFL and his seven touchdowns of 40 or more yards rank seventh in the league. Among wide receivers taken in the 2019 draft, Brown’s 21 touchdowns rank behind only DK Metcalf and A.J. Brown.

Brown had seven touchdowns as a rookie with the Ravens, which was tied for the third among NFL rookies. He followed that up with eight receiving touchdowns in 2020 and six in 2021. Brown became the first player in NFL history to have two 40-plus yard touchdown receptions in a career debut after his first two catches went for a 47-yard touchdown and an 83-yard touchdown.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said he can’t wait to start designing plays for Brown, adding he expects the receiver to play “everywhere.”

“He’s dynamic,” Kingsbury said, adding, “We just feel like it’s the perfect fit. He can play inside, outside and he can take the top off.”

The Cardinals have three picks on day two of the draft on Friday. Their second-round pick is No. 55 overall and they also have their original third-round pick (No. 87) in addition to acquiring the Raven’s pick (No. 100). Arizona presently doesn’t possess a selection in either the fourth or fifth rounds.

Acquiring an extra third-round pick was a key component in the trade for Brown, Keim said. He called it “icing on the cake.”

“I think it’s great because it gives us options,” he said. “There’s a number of different directions we could go, whether it’s packaging picks and moving up or staying put or even moving back and acquiring another fourth- or fifth-round pick. There’s going to be some good players up there that we feel like can contribute, so there’s a number of different directions we can go, positionally.”

Have an opinion on the Arizona Cardinals? Reach McManaman at and follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac. Listen to him live on Fox Sports 910-AM every Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 on Calling All Sports with Roc and Manuch. 

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