Star receiver Antonio Brown traded to Raiders for two 2019 NFL draft picks

Star receiver Antonio Brown traded to Raiders for two 2019 NFL draft picks

Jon Gruden made his big splash Saturday night.

The Raiders are acquiring star wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California. The Raiders confirmed the trade on Wednesday when the new league year began.

The Silver and Black agreed to send a 2019 third-round pick and a 2019 fifth-round selection to Pittsburgh in the trade when it becomes official on Wednesday. 

The Raiders add a true No. 1 receiver to the pattern and a big contract to the payroll. Brown reportedly is  getting a raise, according to Pro Football Talk. 

The 30-year-old seemed to confirm the news himself on social media. 

Brown is worth top dollar if he continues to produce at his current rate. The four-time first-team All-Pro has at least 100 catches and 1,284 yards in each of the last six seasons and widely is considered among the NFL’s truly elite targets.

Just two days ago, it appeared that Brown was heading elsewhere. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that the Buffalo Bills were "closing in on a deal" to acquire Brown.

However, the deal fell through, and Bills general manager Brandon Beane revealed Friday that the Bills had moved on from their pursuit. That opened the door for the Raiders to jump back into the equation, and they capitalized.

Brown’s work ethic is unquestioned, something Gruden has effusively praised in the past. He also has a bond with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, as evidenced by filmed interactions at past Pro Bowls and Brown's own social media post Saturday night.

Brown instantly will improve the Raiders’ offense and is a scheme fit for Gruden’s often-complex offense that requires pass catchers to learn and play every receiver position. 

Brown was traded after his relationship with the Steelers deteriorated, and his behavior has seemed erratic and suggests he can be a malcontent, but the Raiders didn’t worry much about that when weighing whether to acquire him. He’s a dynamic talent entering a franchise with a strong coach who believes Brown will fit in well wearing silver and black.

Brown should help the Raiders win more in 2019 and be a top receiving option for several seasons into the franchise’s scheduled move to Las Vegas in 2020. The Raiders had to give up draft capital to acquire him, meaning they lose two cheap young prospects in exchange for an established, soon-to-be 31-year-old.

[RELATED: Raiders could benefit from loaded free-agent safety class]

That’s a risk for a rebuilding team with so many needs remaining in a difficult AFC West, and the move wasn’t taken lightly. The Raiders weighed multiple factors and put a ceiling value on Brown’s acquisition that they wouldn’t exceed.

After analyzing a detailed pros and cons list, the Raiders ultimately decided to make a deal and bring in one of the best receivers of this generation. 

NFL rumors: Chargers have 'moved on' from longtime QB Philip Rivers

NFL rumors: Chargers have 'moved on' from longtime QB Philip Rivers

For 14 seasons, the Raiders and Philip Rivers have been rivals. Rivers' first NFL start fittingly came against the Raiders in 2006, his third professional season. 

That rivalry might be done, though. The Athletic's Jay Glazer said Monday on FS1's "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" that the Los Angeles Chargers have "moved on" from Rivers. 

Rivers, 38, will become a free agent this upcoming offseason. The 16-year veteran has spent his entire career for the Chargers, but it's unknown if he will continue playing in 2020. He already has moved his large family to Florida this offseason. 

The gunslinger was the No. 4 pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. He has an 18-9 career record against the Raiders with 47 touchdown passes -- his most against any opponent -- and 22 interceptions.

[RELATED: Carr 'looking forward' to being Raiders' QB in Vegas opener]

If the Chargers do move on from Rivers, they could try to grab a QB early in the 2020 draft. The Bolts own the No. 6 pick, and our own Josh Schrock has them taking Oregon's Justin Herbert in the first round. 

As the Raiders move to Las Vegas, it could be the end of an era with their Philip Rivers rivalry.

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

Las Vegas Raiders can use Tom Brady to build business, Jay Glazer says

While Derek Carr was in Las Vegas for the Raiders' official rebranding this week, speculation about Tom Brady joining the Silver and Black continues to simmer.

Two weeks ago, The Athletic's Jay Glazer said that Brady to the Raiders is a "no-brainer" because it would help with ticket sales, among other things.

On Friday, Glazer added a bit more context when asked again about where Brady will play next season.

"I said it last week, the Chargers or the Raiders," Glazer wrote. "I spoke about the business side of things. You guys kind of jumped on me talking about how great ticket sales are for the Raiders. I don’t know if I said ticket sales or not but there’s way more than ticket sales when you’re building up a business. They can use Tom Brady to build the business of the Raiders, which will now be an international team. I say that because of all the big business whales from all over the world who are going to come to Las Vegas and now be exposed to the Raiders.

"That’s going to be a hot ticket. The international marketing will be huge. The Raiders are going to be big players internationally with that. That’s why I would think it’s a brilliant move to go to Vegas."

Brady, who will turn 43 years old before the start of the 2020 NFL season, is a free agent and could move on from the Patriots, the only franchise he has ever known.

Carr is under contract with the Raiders for three more seasons, and recently said he is "looking forward" to being under center for the first snap in Las Vegas. But head coach Jon Gruden didn't give the most glowing endorsement of Carr after the regular-season finale in December.

All of this has fueled chatter that the Raiders could bring in Brady to help open their first season in Sin City.

[RELATED: Kiper has Raiders taking two Sooners]

While Brady led the Patriots to a 12-4 record this past season, his numbers declined, suggesting that his best days are behind him.

If owner Mark Davis and Gruden want to win games and continue to build a solid foundation for the future, they'll stick with Carr. If they are more concerned with making a sexy splash, they'll make the change to Brady.