Sports

All the Reasons the Raiders Were Smart to Trade for Antonio Brown, Reconsidered

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 15:  Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Oakland Raiders warms up before the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on August 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown warms up before the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on August 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Let’s take a look at Antonio Brown’s stats with the Oakland Raiders:

—2 frostbitten feet.
—1 hot air balloon ride on Hard Knocks.
—2 helmet grievances.
—1 screaming match with the GM.
—1 beautifully produced video featuring surreptitiously recorded audio of head coach Jon Gruden.

Shades of Truffaut!

Despite all that, erm, production, the Raiders announced on Saturday that they are parting ways with Brown. The receiver requested to be released (he conveyed the message via Instagram post), and Oakland ended its Antonio Brown experiment before he played a single snap.

Less than 24 hours before Oakland released Brown, Gruden told reporters that the wide receiver would be playing for the team in its opening game against the Broncos on Monday night. Brown’s departure will likely throw Gruden’s game plan into chaos, but planning clearly isn’t the Raiders’ strong suit. Only an idiot would think that trading for the unpredictable receiver was a shrewd bit of business. For example, in March I wrote that “it may prove to be a shrewd bit of business for the Raiders,” and I’m a total idiot.

Let’s check back in with that article and see if there’s anything that needs to be reconsidered.

Whether disgruntled, partially gruntled, or pleasantly gruntled, Brown is still one of the best wide receivers of all time.

True, but he actually has to play in order for this to mean anything. Whoops!

It may prove to be a shrewd bit of business for the Raiders, who have been anything but astute since they signed head coach Jon Gruden to a 10-year deal last offseason. Last year, the team traded a third round pick to the Steelers for receiver Martavis Bryant, who Oakland wound up cutting before the season even began. That they were able to get an all-time great player from the same team for just a teensy bit more is a testament to how bizarre the NFL trade market can be.

The Raiders wound up re-signing Bryant, and he caught 19 passes for 266 yards and 0 touchdowns last season. Not exactly prolific, but compared to Brown those numbers make Bryant look like Antonio Brown (the Steelers version).

The move is good news for Brown, and not just because he was so desperate to leave Pittsburgh. His Raiders contract provides him with a large sum of guaranteed money, whereas his Steelers deal guaranteed zilch.

Um, about that “good news”…

Whoops again!

Is it peculiar that the Raiders traded away 24-year-old receiver Amari Cooper last season but are committing long-term to Brown, who is 31? Perhaps! And is it odd that they didn’t want to pony up the cash for Khalil Mack even though Mack is younger and plays a more in-demand position? Maybe! But none of that matters now. The Raiders will have one of the best players in the NFL suiting up for them next season

Correction: The Raiders will not have one of the best players in the NFL suiting up for them this season. They might not be so smart after all.

Update, Sept. 7, 2019, at 6:10 p.m.: Brown, inevitably, has signed a deal with the New England Patriots. The wide receiver, who’ll be eligible to play in Week 2, celebrated his new deal by tweeting that it was #GodsPlan. Good to know that someone knows what’s going on here.