The Raiders gave the Pittsburgh Steelers two mid-round NFL draft picks for Antonio Brown, and didn’t receive a single snap in return.
The superstar receiver was released Saturday, ending a five-month-plus stay that brought the Raiders more problems than it brought Brown dollars.
So, how did we get here? Let’s review one crazy week. ...
The Raiders fined Brown roughly $54,000 for two unexcused absences this preseason, and he posted that fine letter on Instagram on Wednesday. Then he got into an intense verbal altercation with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock over it, and the pair had to be separated.
The Raiders told Brown to stay home from work Thursday, but he seemed ready to move on Friday, offering what several in the room described as a heartfelt apology in a team meeting. A few hours later, coach Jon Gruden said Brown was expected to play in Monday night's season opener against the Denver Broncos.
An apology wasn’t enough for the Raiders, though. They fined him $215,000 for Wednesday’s incident, according to ESPN, and activated language that voided $29.125 million in guaranteed money in his three-year contract extension.
That put Brown and the Raiders back on a collision course. He told ESPN on Saturday that he wouldn’t play without guarantees, and asked the Raiders to release him in another Instagram post.
They quickly obligated, letting him go just hours after that request.
To borrow a phrase from “Anchorman,” that escalated quickly.
The Raiders took a firm stand against Brown’s antics -- Mayock doesn’t seem like such a pushover now, does he? -- and hit him where it hurt. Brown isn’t one to back down from a fight, either, but now he’s left to find a new team and the money that he craves.
There will be on-the-field ramifications for the Raiders, who would’ve been exponentially better with Brown in the pattern. An A-minus receiver corps now turns into a C-plus without Brown, who draws attention from everyone else while still making plays. He’s a Hall of Fame talent, and would’ve significantly improved the Raiders’ chances of winning each week.
The Raiders could have placed Brown on the active\left squad list and issued a five-day letter, which would have forced him to return within the aforementioned amount of time. If Brown didn’t report, he wouldn’t have been paid and would have gone on a reserve-did not report list and be shut down for the season. Since the Raiders voided his guarantees, he would’ve done so without being paid.
Instead, the Raiders decided Brown wasn’t worth the headache. How that changes the course of their season will start to be seen Monday night.
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You’ll hear Raiders and coaches says they’re happy to be rid of the AB drama, and that they’re able to focus solely on football. Some might say the Raiders are better for Brown being gone, citing addition by subtraction.
Don’t believe it. The Raiders losing their best player just before the regular season is a gut punch. The Khalil Mack trade came around the same time last year, and knocked the wind out of the Raiders. They never recovered.
This team is far more talented than that one, but losing Brown will hurt the on-field product and impact the Raiders' final season in Oakland. There’s no doubt about that.