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. 

Damarious Randall, Raiders agree to terms after Eli Apple pact dissolves


Damarious Randall, Raiders agree to terms after Eli Apple pact dissolves

The Raiders fell into some unexpected salary-cap space Thursday when their deal with Eli Apple dissolved. They wasted no time putting it to use.

They kept the investment in the secondary, agreeing on terms of a contract with defensive back Damarious Randall on Thursday night. That news comes via ESPN’s Josina Anderson, who said Randall texted her directly with news of the deal.

The 27-year old played free safety his last two years with the Cleveland Browns and cornerback the previous three with the Green Bay Packers.

Randall could pair with Johnathan Abram at safety or play outside cornerback, if that’s what is required. The Raiders have needs at both spots.

Randall and Abram seem like an ideal mix at safety, though the Raiders desperately need a starting outside cornerback opposite Trayvon Mullen. That position could get filled with remaining funds in free agency or with one of two first-round NFL draft picks.

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The 27-year-old Randall’s a proven commodity, with 16 interceptions in five NFL seasons. He didn’t have a pick last year but had four in every season before that.

Randall was traded from Green Bay to Cleveland before the 2018 season and was solid in coverage with the Browns. He was awesome in 2018, with four interceptions, five passes defensed and he allowed just a 68.8 passer rating when targeted.

The Raiders' secondary is better with Randall than it would’ve been with Apple in the mix, so this should be considered a win for the Silver and Black after a strange and unexpected turn of events.

[RELATED: McKinney headlines top DB prospects for Raiders to target]

Las Vegas has three solid pieces of its secondary with Randall, Abram and Mullen. Lamarcus Joyner is expected to man the slot again in 2020, with just one more void left to fill.

The Raiders have upgraded several defensive positions, including some at every level of the unit. The team should be significantly better on that side of the ball, especially if they hit on a defensive player high in the draft.

Source: Eli Apple, Raiders don't finalize contract in free agency


Source: Eli Apple, Raiders don't finalize contract in free agency

The Raiders agreed in principle on terms of a one-year deal with Eli Apple last month. It was worth $6 million, bringing the former first-round pick into the Silver and Black’s defensive backfield.

A league source with direct knowledge of the deal confirmed the agreement on March 18, but the deal never came across the transaction wire as many other Raiders additions had. Turns out there was a good reason for that.

The deal was never finalized, and now it never will be. The pact has been dissolved, a league source confirmed Thursday, making Apple an unrestricted free agent once again. ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news. An inabilty to get a physical was at issue, though it's uncertain at this time if a deadline was missed. 

The money earmarked for Apple is now Raiders' salary-cap space moving forward, leaving roughly $11 million remaining at this stage. The Silver and Black need $9.4 million to sign their draft picks as currently slotted, per Over the Cap.

Apple was set to be an option to start at outside cornerback opposite Travyon Mullen, thought he didn’t eliminate the team’s need at the position. The Raiders were expected to add one in the draft, quite possibly in the first round.

[RELATED: Why Nick Kwiatkoski thought Raiders were 'best fit' in NFL free agency]

That could certainly happen now, and as early as No. 12 overall, as the Silver and Black look for a plug-and-play option from the college ranks.

There are some veteran options on the market, including last year’s starter Daryl Worley. The Cincinnati Bengals cut Dre Kirkpatrick this week, and he knows Paul Guenther’s defense from their time together in Cincinnati. Logan Ryan, Aqib Talib and Prince Amukamara also remain on the open market.

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