NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson said the decision to send star wide receiver A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles in a blockbuster deal was made Thursday when the team realized it would be hard to get an extension done.
Although coach Mike Vrabel said the Titans "went to the extreme to try and keep Brown," Brown told ESPN that getting traded to the Eagles (in exchange for the 18th and 101st overall picks) wasn't his doing.
"This wasn't my fault," Brown told ESPN. "I wanted to stay, but the deal they offered was a low offer. The deal they offered wasn't even $20 million a year."
Brown said the Titans' offer topped out at $16 million per season with incentives that would have driven the deal up to a $20 million average. At 24 years old, Brown was entering the final year of his rookie contract that would have paid him around $4 million in 2022.
Brown had 63 catches for 869 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Brown accounted for 23% of the Titans' receiving yards last season.
Tennessee finished with a 12-5 record but had an 11-2 record when Brown suited up. Brown surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark in his first two seasons, including a 70 catches and 1,075 receiving yards in 2020 when he hauled in a career-best 11 touchdowns.
Brown has accumulated 24 touchdowns and averaged 16.2 yards per reception over his first three seasons, which ranks eighth and third, respectively, among all NFL pass-catchers over that stretch.
After establishing himself as one of the Titans' top playmakers, Brown wanted to be paid accordingly. Brown had no intention of reporting to offseason activities in hopes of securing a new deal after seeing the explosive increase in wide receiver contracts during the free-agency period.
The Eagles saw an opportunity to get Brown and team him with quarterback Jalen Hurts, who was heavily involved with recruiting Brown to Alabama before he chose to stay in-state and play for Ole Miss.
"The trade thing kind of manifested itself from them, and we really started working on that over the last 18, 20 hours," Robinson said. "I dealt with [Brown's agent], went back and forth really over the last two to three weeks and just realized that the gap was really too far for us to bridge."
Brown said the gap wasn't as big as Titans led on to the media.
"I would have stayed if they offered me $22 million," Brown told ESPN.
Brown agreed to a four-year, $100 million contract with the Eagles that includes $57 million guaranteed, according to ESPN's Kimberley Martin. The $25 million per year average is the fourth highest in the NFL behind Tyreek Hill ($30 million), Davante Adams ($28 million) and DeAndre Hopkins ($27.3 million).
With the 18th pick acquired in the trade, Tennessee selected Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks. He could play opposite newly acquired veteran wideout Robert Woods -- who now becomes the No. 1 receiver for the Titans.
Burks has drawn comparisons to Brown because of the similar body types and ability to get yards after the catch. As a rookie, Brown was tops in the NFL in YAC -- averaging 9 yards per reception. Burks' 9.4 yards after the catch average ranked seventh among FBS receivers last year.
"I’ve looked up to A.J. all my life," Burks said Thursday. "Watched his highlights, kind of mimic myself on certain things after him."
The Titans started the draft with Brown on the roster along with seven draft picks.
Now, they have Burks and 10 picks after the wheeling and dealing that Robinson made on Day 1, which included trading their original first-round pick (No. 26) to the Jets. The Titans also traded the 101st pick in the deal for pick Nos. 35, 69 and 163.
The 35th pick also gives them a second-round pick, which they didn't have coming into the draft.