Antonio Brown trade: Raiders' costs, benefits of pursuing wide receiver

Antonio Brown trade: Raiders' costs, benefits of pursuing wide receiver

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Raiders are meeting with several top wide receivers here at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Count Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel and Ole Miss’ D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown among them.

The Silver and Black need a positional overhaul at receiver, as Jordy Nelson and Seth Roberts are the only experienced options on the roster. Realistically, the Raiders need at No. 1 receiver. And a No. 2. Maybe a No. 3.

A relatively weak free-agent class might help, but not much.

The draft, however, can help fill some of those spots. Maybe not all of them.

“This wide receiver class is different than a lot of years,” Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said on Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “A lot of years, you have a dominant one or two or three wideouts where you go, ‘they’re clearly the top three.’ What we’re seeing this is that there are good wideouts for about three or four rounds, solid guys who can come in and start for you. But I don’t think there are any guys who are going to say that they’re the No. 1 wideout in this draft. I think it’s more about finding guys who fit scheme-wise. That’s what we’re trying to figure out now.”

There’s a clear-cut, no-doubt-about-it receiver out there, though he’s currently a Pittsburgh Steeler.

For how much much longer remains to be seen. Antonio Brown has made a trade request the Steelers are willing to grant, though they’re asking for a king’s ransom.

Multiple teams have reached out to inquire about acquiring Brown, and NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Friday that the Raiders are one.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden was asked that question directly on Thursday, and evaded it.

"I don't know. I don't have any comment on any of that,” Gruden said in a side session with Raiders beat reporters. “I'm not going to take the cheese on that."

He’d have to give up some cheddar for Brown, possibly one of the Raiders’ four draft picks in the top 35. Then they’d likely have to restructure Brown’s contract, despite it already paying the five-time All-Pro top dollar.

Oh, and he’ll be 31 in July. Is that the right move for a rebuilding team several major upgrades from contention in the AFC West? They’d have to give up draft capital that could’ve been used on a younger, cheaper receiver that could help in the short and long term.

Draft prospects are unproven commodities. Brown, by contrast, is a sure thing.

Gruden heaped praise on Brown before playing Pittsburgh during the 2018 season, though that came before a well-publicized argument with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He called Brown a tireless worker, a dynamic threat.

It’s hard to argue those points in this cost-benefit analysis, though Gruden’s preferences must also be weighed.

“Well, I don’t like veteran players, so I’ll just leave it at that," Gruden said with tongue firmly in cheek. "I’m not going to speculate about anybody. We are going to look at every vehicle possible. Certainly the financial part of every acquisition has to be considered, but we are going to look into everybody’s availability and what we think is best for our team.”

Gruden has also said some of the team’s $71 million in salary-cap space will be reserved in case an attractive trade proposal becomes available during the draft.

[RELATED: Gruden denies trying to manipulate draft with QB praise]

The Raiders coach and chief personnel man is setting up the possibility of acquiring Brown as he reconstructs his receiver corps, and getting Brown won’t stop the Raiders from drafting more help down the road.

The cost to get Brown is unknown, though his recent perception as a volatile presence must also be weighed as the Raiders make an important decision about the direction and pace of their rebuild. If they’re as patient as they’ve promised to be, acquiring talent to help this team as it transitions to Las Vegas, sacrificing assets for Brown might not be proper tact. He would help the Raiders win faster, especially if the Silver and Black strike with their post-trade high draft picks and a select few free-agent targets.

Brown’s market price will continue to develop as we near the NFL draft, and the Raiders must determine his worth versus what it would cost to get him.

Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season


Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season

ALAMEDA – Hunter Renfrow injured his ribs and punctured his lung during a Week 12 loss to the New York Jets, a scary situation that put the rest of his season in some jeopardy.

The Raiders couldn’t say for sure if he’d finish out his rookie season, where he made steady progress and ranked high among quarterback Derek Carr’s most reliable targets.

He didn’t play last week against Kansas City and won’t play Sunday against Tennessee at Oakland Coliseum, but could well come back down the stretch.

“We’re hopeful that he could return for the last game or two,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “We’re going to keep him on the active roster. We’ll do without him for another game or two, and we’re hoping to get him back for the Chargers game [in Week 16]. That’s on our wish list, our hope list right now for Hunter. We miss him.”

Renfrow wasn’t active on Wednesday, according to a practice estimation from the team. The Silver and Black conducted a walk-through session off-site, on a basketball court in Alameda to avoid inclement weather. The focus is teaching and the mental side of the game.

“We have made some adjustments to our roster, so we have gone inside to try to multiply our reps for a lot of people that we have to get ready to play,” Gruden said. “There are pros and cons to everything. I like to get a lot of reps in on Wednesday to teach the game plan and make sure they’re sound in their assignments. It’s not at the same speed, but it’s an important part of learning, especially the changes we have had at several positions.

“I think it has been beneficial. We’ll come out and run fast Thursday and Friday and get ready for the Titans.”

Running back Josh Jacobs was considered out on the team’s practice estimation with a shoulder injury. Right guard Trent Brown was considered a non-participant with a pectoral injury. He has been dealing with knee and ankle injuries in recent weeks.

[RELATED: Review-Journal: Should Raiders move on from Derek Carr?]

Raiders practice report

Did not practice
WR Hunter Renfrow (rib)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (pectoral)
LB Kyle Wilber (ankle)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

NOTE: The Raiders conducted a walk-through practice on Wednesday. Therefore, the participation report is an estimation.

Raiders' Derek Carr lauds Josh Jacobs' ability to play through pain

Raiders' Derek Carr lauds Josh Jacobs' ability to play through pain

ALAMEDA -- Josh Jacobs has been playing through pain. The Raiders running back has been limited for several practice weeks with a shoulder injury, but a visual posted on his Instagram Stories and Snapchat made it real.

He showed a photo of his shoulder iced and in a sling following his Snapchat post of a placard stating he fractured it way back in Week 7.

"His shoulder’s hurt. I didn’t know,” quarterback Derek Carr said with a smile.

Jacobs hasn’t missed a game -- he didn’t even miss a series after injuring the joint while trucking Green Bay’s Adrian Amos -- since that time and continues to violently run and produce at an efficient clip.

He exceeded 1,000 yards Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, with his fifth 100-plus performance. Then it was right back to rest and rehab so he can play the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Oakland Coliseum.

These efforts have impressed Raiders fans and teammates alike during a 2019 campaign where he’s a frontrunner to be Offensive Rookie of the Year.

[RELATEDReview-Journal: Should Raiders move on from Derek Carr?]

“When I have said that he’s special, I’m including things like that, which I knew about and you all didn’t,” Carr said. Everybody is playing with some ailment at this point, and I’m sure it’s all listed on the injury report. Josh is special because football means a lot to him.

“I have been around people before who have had injuries where I think, ‘I wish they would’ve played through that.’ If Josh wasn’t able to play, I would completely understand considering what he’s dealing with. That he keeps suiting up and going out there and running with the style he runs with -- I don’t think enough can be said about that guy.”