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Free Agent Spotlight: WR John Brown

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The first of our free agent spotlights focuses on a player familiar with Bruce Arians and would provide a more affordable deep threat

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

As we head into free agency season, Bucs Nation will bring one spotlight player a day up until free agency officially kicks off.

Today, we’re starting with wide receiver John Brown who is obviously familiar with new head coach Bruce Arians and his offense.

John Brown’s Career

Brown, 28, was drafted by Arians and the Cardinals 91st overall in 2014. He burst on to the scene with his big play ability and blazing speed. Brown finished his rookie campaign with 48 receptions for 696 yards, five touchdowns, a 14.5 yards per reception average, and 31 of his receptions resulting in a first down.

Brown saw his production dip in 2016 and 2017 as he battled a sickle cell trait, leading to the Cardinals allowing him to walk in free agency. He signed a one year deal with the Baltimore Ravens where he began to flourish until Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback. Brown finished his 2018 season with 42 receptions for 715 yards and five touchdowns.

Brown had career highs nearly across the board in 2015 with 65 receptions, 1,003 yards, seven touchdowns, and a 15.4 yards per reception average, second only to his 2018 in Baltimore where he had 17.0 yards per reception.

Why The Buccaneers Need Him

There is no question the Bucs will/should be looking to move on from troubled receiver DeSean Jackson who is set to make $10-million dollars in 2019. Brown is already familiar with the offense and provides the kind of speed that can take the top off the defense while providing a reliable option beyond just speed.

Brown’s catch percentage for his career averages 49.28. For reference, DJax sits at a 55.8% for his career. Brown’s ability to bounce back from the sickle cell trait provides optimism of a high ceiling in the near future.

What Will Brown Cost?

Brown is coming off of a one year, $5-million dollar deal while finishing with more receptions and touchdowns than DeSean Jackson - and a mere 59 yards fewer. All this at $6-million dollars less. According to Spotrac, Brown’s estimated market value is $6.1-million dollars annually, 40% less than what DJax is owed. His career numbers line up along the same lines as receivers like Paul Richardson, Allen Hurns, and Terrence Williams. Bear in mind, Brown would come on as the deep threat/third receiver type role as the top two receivers are established in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. They don’t need him to be the big possession receiver, they need him to be the fast deep threat they thought DJax would be when he was signed.

Will It Happen?

This seems like one of the more likely free agent signings in 2019. His familiarity with the offense, the ability to provide DJax type production at a reduced price, and his age all make him a very viable candidate. Despite Arians publicly speaking about how much he loves Jackson and how he’d like to have him back, the NFL is a business. Financially it doesn’t make sense to keep DJax at that price tag when he has a very blatant issue with Jameis Winston who Arians made very clear was the present and future of this franchise. My guess is Brown becoming a Buc is more likely than most of the other free agent receivers.