Raiders release Antonio Brown before star wide receiver plays one game

Raiders release Antonio Brown before star wide receiver plays one game

After zero games played and months of drama, the Raiders officially released star wide receiver Antonio Brown on Saturday morning.

The Raiders acquired the four-time All-Pro in March, sending a third- and fifth-round draft pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a trade for the disgruntled superstar. The Raiders agreed to a three-year contract with Brown worth nearly $30 million guaranteed, but he will not see a cent of that money following a bizarre, tension-filled tenure that ultimately came to a head late this week.

The Raiders reportedly fined Brown $215,073.53 on Friday night for conduct detrimental to the team, two days after he confronted general manager Mike Mayock, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The fine came shortly after Brown apologized to his teammates, and coach Jon Gruden and offensive coordinator Greg Olson both told reporters that the receiver would play in Monday night's season opener against the Denver Broncos.

The fine voided Brown's $29.125 million in contract guarantees, and the receiver emailed ESPN's Jeff Darlington that there was "no way I play after they took that and made my contract week to week." Early Saturday, Brown posted on Instagram that he wanted the Raiders to release him.

Brown arrived at Raiders training camp in Napa in July riding a hot-air balloon and sky-high expectations. But Brown did not play much during training camp or in any of the preseason games, as frostbitten feet and a prolonged helmet saga kept him away from the team for extended stretches.

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This week, Brown called out the Raiders on his Instagram story for fining him for missing practice and a walk-through. Brown and Mayock then got into a heated argument at Wednesday's practice, prompting the fine that ultimately opened the door for Brown's release.

Now, the Raiders will open the 2019 season in two days without the player seen as the key to unlocking their offense's potential, and Brown is looking for a new home. He can sign with a new team starting Saturday at 1 p.m. PT.

Chris Simms impressed with Raiders, who have been 'kicking some butt'

Chris Simms impressed with Raiders, who have been 'kicking some butt'

If you're impressed by the Raiders' recent turnaround, you're definitely not alone.

NBC Sports' Chris Simms is at a loss for words when it comes to describing what Oakland has accomplished after what only can be described as a hellish start to the season.

"Wow. I mean, I can't really say enough right now about what I've seen from the Oakland Raiders," Simms told NBC Sports California on Wednesday. "My old coach, Jon Gruden, has been kicking some butt, and I'm not saying that because he's my old coach. Trust me, I've talked crap about him before when he hasn't been good. I just think the way he is managing the football game right now is phenomenal."

Simms believes part of the 3-2 Raiders' recent surge can be attributed to Gruden putting his players in the right position to succeed.

"[The team] is playing extremely hard and physical on both sides of the football, but he's managing the offense the right way and managing it in a way that is giving it realistic expectations," Simms continued. "[He's] not asking it to do things that some of the players have not been able to do, and it's playing to their strengths. 

"They're running the football. [The offense is] playing smash-mouth football. When they drop back to pass, it's high-percentage passes. Let's take care of the football that way. And then when they look to strike deep or something like that, it's usually through a play-action pass or something Jon Gruden has designed in the chemistry lab in the week before through his film study."

The Raiders' consecutive wins over the Colts and Bears, in particular, really caught Simms' eye.

"I just really can't say enough about the Raiders and what they're doing right now," he said. "Those were two surprise victories for me, and they did it in a physical way."

[RELATED: Could Raiders be AFC West favorites after Mahomes injury?]

If the Raiders keep playing like they have the last two weeks, only more praise will follow.

How Patrick Mahomes injury could change outlook for Raiders, AFC West


How Patrick Mahomes injury could change outlook for Raiders, AFC West

The AFC West might have just become even more wide open.

It already was heading in that direction after Kansas City lost each of their last two games, but the Chiefs might have suffered an even worse loss Thursday night when quarterback Patrick Mahomes left their game against the Broncos with an apparent leg injury.

Mahomes was in obvious pain after emerging from a pile following a fourth-down sneak. He was able to walk to the locker room, but was ruled out for the rest of the game shortly thereafter.

If Mahomes' injury is as serious as it appears, it would have a drastic effect on the AFC West race. The Raiders (3-2) have put themselves back in contention after winning their last two games over the Colts and Bears. While Kansas City's Matt Moore is a competent backup quarterback, he's nowhere near the same kind of player as the 2018 NFL MVP.

A Chiefs loss to the Broncos combined with a Raiders win over the Packers would leave Oakland all alone in first place in the division. Safe to say, nobody expected that to be a possibility in Week 7.

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The Chiefs, Raiders and the rest of the NFL wait with bated breath for more information about Mahomes' injury.