Eagles’ A.J. Brown and Jalen Hurts have been friends since Alabama recruiting trip

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Brown explains how friendship with Hurts will help on the field originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

On one hand, A.J. Brown’s recruiting trip to Alabama wasn’t very successful. After all, he didn’t go there. Instead, he opted for Ole Miss.

But he did meet his best friend.

And that relationship with Jalen Hurts laid the foundation for the trade that brought Brown to Philadelphia on Thursday night, five or so years after he first met the eventual Eagles’ quarterback. After the failed recruiting trip, Hurts and Brown stayed in touch and their friendship grew.

“I think when you run into good people, I think you just try to stay close to them,” Brown said on Monday. “He was one person that I considered a really good friend who always looked out for me. And here we are.”

Yup. Here we are.

The Eagles traded away two draft picks on Thursday night, including No. 18 overall, to acquire Brown and give him a four-year extension worth $100 million. And by all accounts, Hurts was actively in general manager Howie Roseman’s ear, trying to make it happen.

Just last week, Hurts was visiting Brown to attend the 2-year-old birthday party for Brown’s daughter Jersee. That’s when the two were able to sneak in a throwing session that made headlines when they posted photos of it. During that session, they joked about getting the chance to play with one another.

A week later, they were teammates.

“In the middle of the throwing session, Jalen said he was going to ask them to trade for me,” Brown said. “We was just laughing and joking. We had no idea that this would happen.”

With the Eagles, Brown will join a group of offensive weapons that includes DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders and Quez Watkins.

Brown is new here so he might not yet realize how polarizing Hurts is in Philadelphia. Some people think Hurts can become the franchise quarterback for the Eagles. Others think he’s never going to be good enough and the Eagles will need to move on.

Whichever side you fall on, you’ll admit that this season will tell us an awful lot about Hurts and his future. Having a player like Brown added to the mix will give the Eagles a chance to fairly evaluate Hurts in 2022.

“I see a guy who is talented, believes in himself, has a strong arm, he’s on time,” Brown said. “This is all just coming from me all the times we’ve worked together. I think the sky’s the limit for him.

“I’m going to go to bat for him every Sunday because he’s my friend. It’s a different mentality you bring when you’re playing for somebody that’s important to you. It’s not about yourself no more. You’re playing for someone else. I’m going to go above and beyond for him and this team.”

Brown, 24, has played three seasons in the NFL after the Titans drafted him with the No. 51 pick back in the 2019 draft. He went over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and managed to have 869 yards in 13 games in 2021.

So since he entered the league, Brown has 185 catches for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns. And he did it on a team that runs more than just about any other team in the league. While the Eagles were very run-heavy in 2021, they’re expected to be much more balanced in 2022 now that they have Brown.

On Thursday morning before the trade, Hurts and Brown were in contact but eventually Brown went “cold” on his best friend. He wanted to contemplate his future and make the right decision. The trade was contingent on a new contract and Brown explained that it was a life-altering moment.

It came down to the wire, but eventually Roseman was able to pull off the trade and bring Brown to Philly.

So that video of Hurts and Brown on FaceTime was just a real moment with two friends who always joked about playing together but never really thought it would happen.

“I know everyone thinks on that FaceTime call, it was planned,” Brown said. “That was just two friends in disbelief that it really happened. We were excited with no worries. We were just laughing.”

Turns out that recruiting trip worked after all.

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