Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson has never been one to negotiate contract extensions through the media.
However, in today’s NFL, that’s almost exclusively how business is done.
Scrubbing social media accounts of team photos, logos or any mention of anything team-related while negotiating a raise is a player’s new way of saying, “I want more money than the last guy who just got paid.”
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray did it. San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel did as well. As has Seattle Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf.
And while Brown, who shares an agent with Samuel and Metcalf, hasn’t completely erased the Titans from his social media accounts, he has made it known that he doesn’t plan to show up to any Titans offseason activities until he has a new deal.
“We've had some discussions with his reps,” Robinson told reporters on Thursday. “He was here a couple of weeks ago. I talked to him. I'm not going to get into any details with contract negotiations, never have really done that. We've made it public about how we feel about A.J., and how we want him to be a part of this football team.”
The market for wide receiver contracts has surged in recent weeks. It started when Davante Adams signed a five-year, $141.5 million contract ($28.25 million average annual value) with the Las Vegas Raiders.
Then the Miami Dolphins gave Tyreek Hill a four-year, $120 million contract ($30 million AAV), followed by Stefon Diggs’ four-year $96 million extension ($24 million AAV).
And while Brown, Samuel, Metcalf and Washington Commanders wideout Terry McLaurin are a perceived tier below the aforementioned trio, they have the luxury of negotiating in a time when the receivers have most of the leverage.
“It's interesting to look at and where [the WR market] has shifted,” Robinson said. “Every year, it seems like certain positions, there's ebbs and flows with where those markets go. A couple of years ago the safety market was down, that’s when ... I think we got Kenny Vaccaro. He was out there for a while, and we were fortunate enough that he was there in August."
In the case of Adams and Hill, the Packers and Chiefs chose to move on from the player instead of handing out the massive payday they were searching for. They also have quarterbacks with $28.5 million and $35.7 million cap hits, respectively.
While the 49ers have expressed that they’re open to paying Samuel what he wants, he still requested a trade.
Several reports indicate that Robinson has rebuffed any team calling to inquire about trading for Brown. He’s remained adamant that keeping the 24-year-old wideout, who’s one of two centerpieces to Tennessee’s offense along with running back Derrick Henry, is at the top of his priority list.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini said as much, reporting she’s been told both sides are working toward a long-term extension that will keep Brown in Tennessee for a long time.
Missing six combined games the last two seasons after playing in every game as a rookie, it might behoove Brown to get paid now. His knees have been a slight cause for concern, and with the known short career span of the average NFL player, Brown’s projected market value of $22.5 million per year according to Spotrac might look pretty good to both him and the Titans right now.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_