Back in 2014, a rookie wide receiver came to the desert and dazzled the Arizona Cardinals. John Brown, a third-round draft pick out of little-known Pittsburg State University, made quite an impression on the team’s offensive coaches. Brown ultimately left the Cards following the 2017 campaign, but could a reunion this coming fall make sense for both parties?
Recent reports indicate that Brown’s two-year stint with the Buffalo Bills could be coming to an end. The 30-year is scheduled to count $9.53 million against the club’s salary-cap in 2021, a number that Buffalo’s management may not be willing to accept. A bad calf and ankle limited Brown’s effectiveness in 2020, and the Florida native may find himself testing the free agent market once again this coming spring.
Just two years ago, Brown turned in the best performance of his NFL career for the Bills. In 15 starts, “Smokey” hauled in 72 passes for 1,060 yards and six touchdowns. It was the best numbers that Brown had posted since 2015, since he totaled 65 receptions, 1,003 receiving yards and seven scores for Arizona.
Brown’s Achilles heel as a professional has been his susceptibility to injuries. In 2017, the 5’11, 178 pounder was slowed by issues with his quadriceps, back and toe. Brown’s inability to stay healthy certainly contributed to his departure from the Cardinals the following offseason.
In March of 2018, Brown signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens. The speedy wideout caught 42 passes for 715 yards and five touchdowns in 16 appearances (15 starts) for Baltimore. A couple of months after that season ended, Brown agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal with Buffalo.
It appears that the Cards will be in the market for a pass-catcher this offseason. Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald has yet to announce if he’ll return for an 18th campaign with the Redbirds. Younger receivers like Christian Kirk, Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson have underachieved thus far for the organization.
At the moment, Brown is still under contract with the Bills. His release, however, could present Arizona general manager Steve Keim with an interesting option. Perhaps a scenario in which Brown once again dons a Cardinals uniform will become a possibility in 2021.