The Antonio Brown trade saga has finally come to a close. As first announced by the man himself on Instagram, and later confirmed by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Sunday, Antonio Brown is officially a member of the Oakland Raiders.
As reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport, in his first ever NFL trade, Raider’s General Manager Mike Mayock sacrifices a 2019 3rd (No. 66) and 5th (No. 142) round pick in exchange for, arguably, the best wide receiver in the league. Those draft picks are an objectively small price to pay for an Oakland team with a plethora of picks, including three in the first round (No. 4, No. 24, and No. 27), in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. In response to the announcement, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith offered congratulations to Oakland and Brown for pulling off such an objectively one-sided deal, characterizing the two picks sent in exchange for the All-Pro receiver as “a bag of chips and a Coke.”
Oakland’s real expense came in the form of a restructured contract for Brown, which in turn, made him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. In his new, three-year deal, Antonio Brown is earning $50.125 million (with performance incentives worth an addition $4 million), $30.125 million of which is guaranteed. Not only is this new contract worth considerably more money overall (his contract with Pittsburgh was worth $38.9 million over the same period of time), it offers him something he had none of in Pittsburgh, guaranteed money.
Nobody appears to be more excited about this announcement than Antonio Brown, who tweeted a video of himself and his new Quarterback Derek Carr at the 2018 Pro Bowl, with the caption “love at first sight.”
The deal between Pittsburgh and Oakland comes just a few days following the very public collapse of negotiations between the Steeler’s and Buffalo Bills. After rumors initially spread Thursday that a deal to send Brown to Buffalo had been all but agreed upon, Brown took to Instagram, decrying the reports as “fake news” and rendering the deal dead on arrival. Shortly thereafter, Bills GM Brandon Beane issued an official statement on the matter reading, “We inquired about Antonio Brown on Tuesday, and kept talks open with the Steelers. We had positive discussions, but ultimately it didn’t make sense for either side. As great a player as Antonio Brown is, we have moved on and our focus is on free agency.”
Worse yet for Pittsburgh, Brown leaves them with the largest dead-money-salary-cap charge in the history of the NFL, at $21 million. For a team on the precipice of saying goodbye to both their star wideout and star running back, Le’Veon Bell, in the same offseason, that $21 million will only add to the pain of entering the 2019 campaign an objectively much worse team than they were a year ago. Adding further insult to injury, it now appears as though the Raiders may be pursuing Bell as well, in the coming weeks.
With the addition of a new star wide receiver, the Oakland Raiders will enter the 2019 season looking to bounce back from a disappointing 4-12 2018 campaign. With free agency set to begin Wednesday at 4 p.m. EST, look for the Raiders franchise to add even more to their retooled roster this offseason in their pursuit for an AFC West Title.