Ravens’ Release Of Marlon Brown Reminds That NFL Success Is Fleeting

You might remember the name Marlon Brown from a few years back. He was a former undrafted free agent wide receiver who signed with the Baltimore Ravens and sort of came out of nowhere to have an impressive rookie season in 2013, recording 49 receptions for 524 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games with 12 starts. Two of his least productive games just happened to be against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Things haven’t exactly gone as planned since then, and that culminated with the Ravens quietly being waived a bit over a week ago. Brown’s 2015 season ended with a back injury suffered in Week 11, which landed him on injured reserve, and he appears to be continuing to recover from that injury.

At 6’5” and 214 pounds out of Georgia, he had many of the physical tools that make the road toward a successful NFL career an easier one to navigate, but he completely failed to build on his early success, and the offense wound up flourishing with him in a reduced role in his second season.

The Ravens signed Steve Smith in 2014 and the offense ended up having its most prolific year in franchise history, accumulating just south of 6000 yards of total offense and scoring over 400 points. Brown only contributed 255 yards, and failed to score a touchdown on 24 receptions.

In fact, he has still yet to score again since his rookie season. Prior to his back injury that he suffered in the second half of the season, he managed to record just 14 receptions for 112 yards in spite of the fact that Baltimore was struggling with injuries at the wide receiver, including to Smith himself, who was the catalyst for the offensive turnaround the year before.

In spite of the fact that Smith was injured, Torrey Smith left in free agency, and Breshad Perriman never even played, Brown was regularly losing playing time to Kamar Aiken. Then he was losing playing time to player such as Jeremy Butler, Chris Givens, and Daniel Brown.

After two disappointing seasons, it appears that the Ravens had lost their patience with Brown in spite of the great potential that he showed during his rookie season, and which the team very much hoped to see him build upon.

They currently have just eight true wide receivers on the roster, and among them is the free agent addition of Mike Wallace, who played his first four seasons in Pittsburgh. He, Smith, Perriman, and Aiken figure to be the roster locks, while others such as the aforementioned Butler, Givens, Brown, and the rookie Chris Moore contend for another spot or two on the roster, but there are another three players listed as wide receiver/return specialist as well.

Had the Ravens not waived him now, it seems as though there is a good chance he will have been unable to make the 53-man roster anyway. In a way, his career trajectory over the course of the past three years serves as a good reminder of how fleeting this game can be, both in terms of success and employment.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Blue

    Bring him to town so we can steal Ravens playbook.

  • RickM

    Agree, that is a very strange career. I’m sure the release is back-related, but you just don’t often see a receiver have excellent 1st year success like that and then go steadily backwards in Years 2 and 3. Hope the guy gets healthy and can prolong his football career down the road.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Sustained success out of the WR position in the NFL, is a very hard one to predict. Case in point: Many of the greatest WR’s in NFL history, were not top 10 picks in the draft, and many, not even 1st rounders.

    Heck, even The Greatest Of All-Time, had plenty of danger of falling out of the 1st round in the ’85 draft. Ultimately, it didn’t happen because of the keen eye of Bill Walsh. But the fact that multiple teams had a chance to draft him and passed, says a lot. Life’s a crapshoot.

    (Did you know that the Buffalo Bills had the very real and honest chance to have the best 1st Round draft in NFL History? With the 1st overall pick that year, they selected Bruce Smith, DE, VA Tech. And then they STILL had pick number 14. Which they used to select Derrick Burroughs, CB, out of Memphis. They COULD have selected some guy who went on to have a decent little career, Jerry Lee Rice – out of tiny MVSU, like S.F. did just two picks later, at number 16.)

    One of those rare moments in life where 1 out of 2, actually IS quite bad.

  • popsiclesticks

    “Coach T – when they call Strong Right 349 Trips Rhino, I try to run straight and get a pass interference on the corner. But in Stack Left 35 Domino, I line up tight, cheat the route inside and try to draw a long pass interference on the safety. There’s a lot of nuance in their playbook.”

  • popsiclesticks

    I believe studies show that WR has the highest 1st round bust rate, no? My guess is that it’s the position where the athleticism gap between college and pro matters most, ie you can go further on pure athleticism in college and never learn how to actually play the position.

  • VaDave

    Are you aware of this Martavis?? Yes, it is fleeting. I’m hoping the best for him, but jeepers…It’s one thing to have an injury, but being shelved for ingesting something you shouldn’t otta taken.. sigh.

  • Da Bus Driver

    Buffalo is cursed, lol.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I’m not sure about bust, but the lowest average draft value over the past 20 drafts has been cornerback. Of course, CB and WR go hand-in-hand.