Raiders

Why Antonio Brown might hate Patriots as he did Raiders after release

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Why Antonio Brown might hate Patriots as he did Raiders after release

Antonio Brown famously celebrated when the Raiders released him two weeks ago, shouting he was “free” of a team he believed had wronged him by voiding $29.125 million in contract guarantees over a reported run-in with general manager Mike Mayock.

Brown was released again Friday, when the Patriots decided enough was enough, but the wide receiver was much kinder to Bill Belichick and Co. in the aftermath. He tweeted a thank-you message to Belichick, and his appreciative Instagram post to Tom Brady even drew a three-hearts response from the quarterback.

All love likely will be lost, however, if the Patriots follow the Raiders’ lead and try to void the money it once guaranteed Brown. And, as ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler pointed out, that’s quite possible.

When Brown joined the Patriots, he received a $1 million fully guaranteed salary and a $9 million signing bonus. By ESPN’s calculation, Brown was paid $158,333 in salary and roster bonuses by the Patriots, who now can argue that the personal-conduct nature of his release allows them to void the remaining $850,000 or so in guaranteed money. It’s the same argument the Raiders made when they wiped Brown’s guarantees off their books, which angered the receiver.

Now, here’s where the Patriots likely went wrong and the Raiders did not (yes, you read that correctly).

ESPN reported that Oakland, unlike New England, did not include signing-bonus money in Brown’s contract. And while the Patriots haven’t yet paid the receiver the first installment of his bonus — that’s due Monday, for $5 million — a league source told ESPN “the team's way out of it is through a representation warranty clause that says it's a breach of contract if Brown didn't disclose an existing situation that would have prevented his continued availability” — like his former trainer’s sexual-assault lawsuit against him, or the other since-revealed allegations.

If the Patriots refuse to pay Brown his signing-bonus money next week and the remaining $4 million on Jan. 15, the NFL Players Association surely will back the receiver. A source told ESPN that the union sees signing bonuses as "money earned” — no matter when payments are scheduled — and NFL contract language makes it even more complicated to void a guaranteed signing bonus.

So, if the Patriots come for that $9 million, they can expect Brown and the union to file a grievance — and to have a strong case. The NFLPA also doesn’t want to allow teams to escape lucrative signing bonuses promised to players, so it would fight hard for Brown.

[RELATED: AB's departure shows true nature of 'The Patriot Way']

The Raiders, meanwhile, are on much stronger footing, with Brown’s documented personal-conduct issues and no signing bonus in his now-voided contract. Their focus is on Sunday’s road game against the Minnesota Vikings, not a messy money fight, like what might now await the Patriots.

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Raiders' Jon Gruden optimistic Trent Brown will play Week 8 vs. Texans

Raiders' Jon Gruden optimistic Trent Brown will play Week 8 vs. Texans

ALAMEDA – The Raiders didn’t have Trent Brown available Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. A calf strain took care of that.

Head coach Jon Gruden hopes that was a one-game absence.

He admitted looking at a glass half full, but believes the star right tackle has a real shot to play Sunday against the Houston Texans.

“I think this week he has a better than 50/50 chance,” Gruden said. “That’s me being optimistic, but right now I’d say it’s questionable at best.”

Gruden praised David Sharpe’s effort playing in Brown’s spot. Sharpe allowed four total pressures and was called for holding twice on drives where the Raiders still scored touchdowns.

The Raiders brought Brown to Green Bay after formally designating him doubtful, just in case the improbable happened and he was able to go.

“I didn’t think there was really a good chance that he could play, but I thought he could be my bodyguard if he didn’t,” Gruden said. “I like Trent, I like having him around. I just like being around the guy. I like him being around our team. But there was a chance, so we had to take him.”

The Raiders didn’t bring receiver Tyrell Williams on the trip. He was ruled out Sunday with plantar fasciitis.

“He ran today, showing some progress,” Gruden said. “All I can say is we’re crossing our fingers. We really are.”

The Raiders need Williams back to help the receiver corps. Zay Jones was inactive Sunday – he simply not ready to absorb a heavy workload in an offense he joined two weeks prior – and getting him involved and Williams back would help the offense significantly.

[RELATED: Conley trade might not be Raiders' last]

Defensive end Arden Key is also on the mend and, like Williams, could be ready to play the Texans.

“All I can say is they’re questionable now,” Gruden said. “We’re optimistic that they’ll be ready to go for Houston.”

Why Gareon Conley trade makes sense for Raiders, might not be last one

Why Gareon Conley trade makes sense for Raiders, might not be last one

ALAMEDA -- Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley had a game he’d rather forget on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. It was his last in silver and black.

He was traded to the Houston Texans for a 2020 third-round NFL draft pick, a source said Monday, ending a relationship that didn’t seem long-lasting.

Conley’s an excellent cover man with speed, ball skills and all the physical traits one finds in a top cornerback. There were some inside the Raiders complex who thought he was at times disinterested and disengaged, wondering whether he was a perfect match for what they do defensively and the level of physicality required of Raiders cornerbacks.

Actions suggested a possible breakup before Conley's contract expired. The Raiders added two cornerbacks in the first four rounds of this year’s NFL draft despite having entrenched starters in Conley and Daryl Worley, a player the staff likes a great deal.

Conley has struggled this year. According to analytics site Pro Football Focus, Conley has allowed 18 catches on 26 targets for 266 yards and four touchdowns. That included a 74-yard score on Sunday against the Packers, where he also provided some lackluster run defense.

The Raiders decided to move on now, taking the best deal on the table from Houston despite playing the Texans next week.

The added selection gives the Raiders three in the third round next year. They also have two in the first and none in the second. The Silver and Black have the capital to go get just about anyone they want or can use the picks to move around the draft board and back into the second round if they choose.

They’ll stomach some awkwardness for the added draft capital, which could be used to add a player before the Oct. 29 NFL trade deadline.

“It’s tough. It’s difficult,” Gruden said in his Monday press conference. “But it does give us three third-round picks next year. Five picks really in the [top 96], and that’s an area that we wanted. We wanted to continue to add to our football team. We’re excited about the possibilities next year in the draft. It is hard, it’s hard trading anybody. We have some young guys that we want to have an opportunity and that’s the decision we made.”

The Raiders have options to help the team now and/or in the future by trading someone not firmly in their long-term plans. That’s what makes this a good move by Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock.

Conley’s not a perfect fit? Ship him for a pick that can help acquire someone who is. The roster turnover under Gruden has been significant, but he has the 10-year contract and owner Mark Davis’ unconditional support, so why not build a roster as he sees fit? It’s his decade. He can do what he wants with it.

We’ll know in time if it was a good move or not, once we see the tangible return from this selection.

We know for sure the Raiders are still in the midst of a rebuild, even if they’re far more competitive than last year. They’re in the playoff picture as we near the halfway point of the season, with a tough Texans team ahead and a schedule that gets far easier after that.

The Raiders need some help at several spots, including pass rusher, linebacker and maybe even receiver despite two trades already to fortify the position. The trade market could be an avenue for assistance, and this Conley deal could be the latest -- but not the last -- domino to fall in a busy year for Raiders trades.

[RELATED: Raiders turning to rookie to fill Conley's spot at corner]

There could be another deal (or two) before this trading period is done. Time will tell on that front, but Gruden and Mayock will keep a close eye on possible deals and will certainly discuss them with teams as we head toward Oct. 29.

“We’re going to try. We’re going to do what we feel like we can to improve,” Gruden said. “Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into making trades. We’re excited about having three third-round picks, two first-round picks in next year’s draft.”