I still remember when very, very tangential rumors popped after last season that maybe, just maybe the Bears might be a landing spot for Antonio Brown as the Steelers looked to unload him. The talent, obviously, was always tantalizing, but it was clear even then that trading for Brown – and then extending him – was going to come with so much more risk than, say, trading a haul for Khalil Mack and then extending him on a massive deal.
Which is to say, the Raiders came up short on both of those monster trades. Whoopsiedoodle.
Since acquiring Brown back in March for 3rd and 5th round picks and extending him (with $30 million in new guaranteed money), the Raiders have seen Brown go through a bizarre foot issue, a ridiculous helmet issue, and a rumble with the GM. He was set to be suspended for that last one, but then … he wasn’t? Then he was gonna be fine a little bit … and then he made a weird YouTube video … and now he’s getting massively penalized and he wants released?
I … this is just crazy drama, and I can barely keep up. Let me just offer up the story line, starting from last night:
Holy crap Antonio Brown just posted this to YouTube. pic.twitter.com/NOrLdo8uli
— Dieter Kurtenbach (@dieter) September 7, 2019
Gruden: Please stop this shit and just play football. How hard is that? You’re a great football player. Just play football
AB: I'm more than just a football player, man. I’m a real person. I'm a real person. It ain't about the football…
— Dianna (@diannaESPN) September 7, 2019
In all: Antonio Brown screamed at Mike Mayock, punted a ball and yelled “fine me for that.” And they did, more than $215K, plus voiding all his guarantees of $30M. AB asked for his release, knowing he’s entitled to $0. And the team hasn’t responded. Two days until game day.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 7, 2019
In addition to fining Antonio Brown $215,073.53 for conduct detrimental to the team that voided $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money in his contract, the Raiders sent Brown a letter that he no longer will be entitled to termination pay if they release him, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2019
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And that’s fine ! I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mines.Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years. “I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong.” Release me @raiders #NOMore #theyputblindersonahorseforareason #NoMoreFake
I just got an email from Antonio Brown. He tells me the team “took away my guarantees.” He added there’s “no way I play after they took that and made my contract week to week.” So at this moment, once again, don’t expect AB to play on Monday Night Football.
— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) September 7, 2019
I’d say the chances Brown remains with the Raiders this point are quite low, and the chances he contributes meaningfully to a team this NFL season are only slightly less low (because Patriots). But hey, at least this potentially helps the Bears’ 2nd rounder they’re getting from the Raiders after this season! Tank! Tank! Tank!
How, how could the Raiders have foreseen challenges ahead:
This really is wild. Antonio Brown skipped work, disparaged the Steelers publicly, said he wouldn't play on a contract with three years left, then got a raise of almost $20 million with $30-plus million in new guarantees on his way to a new team. Savage power play.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 10, 2019
UPDATE: It happened. He’s gone:
The Raiders have released WR Antonio Brown from the team today.
— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) September 7, 2019
Brown is now a free agent who can theoretically sign with any team, though there’s going to be a serious grievance proceeding with the Raiders about his guarantees and termination pay. Meanwhile, is any team out there going to guarantee him much of anything? And will he play without any guarantees?