The Arizona Cardinals should not break the bank for Marquise Brown

His production has been good, but not good enough for what he is projected to get paid
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Owens/GettyImages

After Kyler Murray, perhaps no player has a more uncertain future on the Arizona Cardinals than Marquise Brown. “Hollywood” is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season and will hit the open market at the same time as Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Tee Higgins, and Michael Pittman. The front office has been unafraid of tough decisions, and they might have to make another one by not retaining Brown past the 2023 NFL season.

When the Arizona Cardinals traded away their first-round pick for Marquise Brown they were expecting a player that could take the top off the defense and overwhelm the opposing team’s CB2. The reality has been good, but a little less exciting than where expectations were initially set when he first arrived on Michael Bidwill's private jet.

Brown’s average depth of target (ADOT) this season is separated by less than a yard from deep threats like Tyreek Hill and Jordan Addison. The Cardinals are trying to utilize his big play ability, but the results have not been there.

In 15 total games in the desert, Marquise Brown’s longest reception went for 47 yards. Dobbs finally hit Brown on a “Go” route against the Bengals for a 25-yard touchdown where he showed his ability to burn the secondary. However, if that is his biggest play this season it will be disappointing.  

Even if he is not reeling off highlight plays, when available Marquise Brown has been remarkably consistent

Through his two seasons with the Cardinals, he has averaged 59.1 and 60.0 yards per game, respectively. These are good numbers, though it is hard not to think his production this season is a little underwhelming considering he is tasked with replacing the void of nearly 80 receiving yards per game that Deandre Hopkins left.  

While part of his limited production can be explained by the Cardinals unstable quarterback situation, it is fair to say that Brown has never felt like someone who is a number one wide receiver. If Arizona Cardinals fans agree that Marquise Brown is not the number one weapon on a contender, then they should support letting him go to another team, because Brown’s market value projects him to be paid like one. Spotrac projects him to make between $18-$22 million a year in the offseason, comparable to the likes of Terry McLaurin and Mike Williams.

At his current rate of production, Marquise Brown will finish barely over 1,000 yards on the season. Factoring in his age and perceived potential one can expect Brown to garner a little more money than what Christian Kirk received from the Jaguars in 2022. Jacksonville is committing 8.65% of their total cap space to Kirk on an average annual basis.

Should the Cardinals commit 9% or more of their cap space for a wide receiver who is likely best suited as a wide receiver two? Consider me skeptical. The Cardinals have enough avenues to acquire wide receiver talent where I believe it would be an inefficient use of valuable cap space to re-sign Brown.