This morning, the Oakland Raiders granted Antonio Brown’s wish. With two days before the season opener, the volatile wideout, via social media, asked for his release. With that said, what happened? This entire situation remains a baffling episode. To answer that, FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria and Terrance Biggs discuss the Antonio Brown saga from many angles.
How much regret should fans have over this trade?
The immediate pain definitely burns to the core. The Raiders got themselves an all-world talent and now, before any real games were played, said talent is gone. Long-term, the Raiders hope they established a “no one bigger than the shield” culture. I say hope because of the long rope the team afforded the mercurial WR. The only saving grace: The picks the Steelers got from the Raiders are still question marks. Time will tell if 3rd rounder Diontae Johnson (WR) or 5th rounder Zach Gentry (TE) turn into solid contributors.
If the fanbase wants to live with possibilities, this trade will crush them. However, in essence, trading mid-round picks for an elite receiver remains a smart move. More importantly, the release costs the Raiders nothing. Brown’s actions voided his contract.
What do you think the locker room fallout will be, if any?
Derek Carr has to be asking himself why, in Gruden’s first two years back, the Raiders lose their best player mere days before the regular season starts. First, it was Khalil Mack and now Antonio Brown. However, Gruden and Mayock were adamant they are changing the culture and waxing AB sets that tone of no one is bigger than the shield. Players in the locker room will have their opinions for sure, but Tom Delaney and the Raiders are showing they aren’t to be trifled with, no matter how good you are.
Mack, Cooper, and Brown. Three separate teams will enjoy Pro Bowl-level talents. If you are a mediocre player, your job will not stay safe. Anyone on the team reamins at risk of trade or release.
How does this move embolden Mike Mayock?
This situation — initially — looked like Mayock was neutered. Especially when Gruden said AB was back and going to play Monday Night. But, the Raiders stood firm on the fine and voiding ABs guaranteed coin. This shows a backing for Mayock — even if he’s just a patsy for Gruden. Mayock can stand tall knowing the team didn’t waver from the fine, voiding and essentially week-to-week deal. That week-to-week style was protection for the team in case AB went wild again.
After Jon Gruden announced on Friday that Brown would play, people rightfully gave Mayock the harshest side-eye ever. If a player calls you out of your name, he needed to catch a release. Initially, Mayock appeared weakened. However, through the release, the Raiders stood with their general manager. Plus, the fine and voiding of the guaranteed money sends a clear message.
In trade gaffes, where does this rank?
Too bad Mark Davis didn’t step in and nix this one in the bud from the get-go ala Roger Saffold – no? It’s surely a bonehead trade, but the bright side: Mid-round picks were exchanged and not first or second rounders. This is going to linger and burn the Raiders for a while, especially if AB signs with another team and balls out.
In all honesty, Hue Jackson sent two higher picks to the Bengals for Carson Plamer. That blew up in Oakland’s face. With Brown, the Raiders shipped non-essential picks and no money.
What is your opinion on the entire process?
It’s a case study on all-world vs. team. The Raiders are long pointed to as the laughing stock of the league. Yet, in this instance, the team stood up for itself. In a situation of lose-lose, the Raiders did their best to manage the situation. But it’s also a pristine example of what happens when transparency is absent. You get a rollercoaster that eventually flies off the tracks.
Should the Raiders have traded for AB? Yes. Should the team have released him? Yes.
In reality, my heart breaks for the Oakland fans. These people pay great sums of money to watch a team, in their final season. Without Brown, the prospects seem less bright, With that said, this is not the way to close the show in Oakland. In less than two years, the Raiders flipped their roster. Now, this is solely the responsibility of Jon Gruden. No excuses, no double-talk. For the fans that packed the Coliseum, give them something to cherish.