'I feel like I've won': Eagles WR A.J. Brown reflects on being traded by Titans

ByTim McManus ESPN Staff Writer ESPN logo
Thursday, December 1, 2022
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PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles receiver A.J. Brown has the bigger picture in mind as he gets set to face his old team, the Tennessee Titans, on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, FOX).

"I feel like regardless of how the trade and everything goes down, I feel like me personally, I feel like I've won," Brown said. "I say that because I changed my family's life forever. That's the goal. Especially growing up from where I'm from. Of course I want to do great and accomplish all the great things, but that's the reason why we play the game."

Brown was dealt from the Titans to the Eagles on the first night of the draft in April for the Nos. 18 and 101 overall picks. The trade was contingent on a new contract extension -- something Brown and the Titans could not come to terms on. Philadelphia signed him to a four-year, $100 million deal that includes $57 million guaranteed.

Brown, 25, was entering the final year of his rookie deal with the Titans and was scheduled to make a base salary of just less than $4 million in 2022.

"This wasn't my fault," Brown told ESPN's Turron Davenport shortly after the trade went down. "I wanted to stay, but the deal they offered was a low offer."

The Titans, who had repeatedly stated that they were not considering trading Brown, used the 18th pick on Arkansas receiver Treylon Burks, who has been limited to seven games because of injury and has 24 receptions for 334 yards with no touchdowns.

Brown, a former Pro Bowler, leads the 10-1 Eagles in targets (86), receiving yards (831) and receiving touchdowns (7) and is second on the team with 53 receptions, three behind DeVonta Smith. Quarterback Jalen Hurts, his good friend, is enjoying an MVP-level campaign while completing 67.3% of his passes -- up from 61.3% a year ago.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) looks on during the NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Brown said the upcoming game with the Titans is "not personal" but acknowledged there is extra significance to the matchup for him.

"I mean, of course it means a lot, but I've got to be professional about it and keep my emotions down and just play," he said. "My job this week is to try to be as consistent as possible. Regardless of who we're playing, that's my focus."

Added tight end Dallas Goedert: "I can imagine it's going to be a big game for him. He's going to be playing with some emotion. I'm excited for him to have a big day."

Coach Nick Sirianni said that his message to Brown will be: "He doesn't need to do anything more than just be A.J. Brown. That's why he's here, that's why we traded for him, that's why we paid him -- because he's a phenomenal player. Just go be yourself. You don't have to do anything special because you're special enough to go out there and play."

Brown said he is now at peace with how everything went down with the Titans and expressed gratitude toward the organization.

"I think when you got through things in this league you learn that it's a business. Of course early on I wanted to finish my career a Titan. I think I stated that," he said. "But I learned it's a business and you've got to do what's best [for you] because they're going to do what's best for them. You grow up. And that's what I did."

Brown is on the mend from a stomach illness that was at its peak last week. He wasn't able to eat for the better part of two days. He popped a blood vessel in his right eye from throwing up so much -- the red is still visible in his eye -- and dropped seven pounds. He played against the Green Bay Packers last week and had an inconsistent game, losing a key fumble before responding with a touchdown catch. He said his strength is "coming back slowly" but he had a good workout on Wednesday as preparations for Tennessee got underway.