Last Saturday, Antonio Brown was released by the Oakland Raiders despite not having played a single game. Within hours he signed a new contract worth 15 million dollars for one season with the defending champion, the New England Patriots.
Since being drafted to the National Football League in 2010, Antonio Brown has been an elite wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2014 and 2017 he led the league in receiving yards. Last season, in 2018, he caught the most touchdowns of any wide receiver in the league.
In week 17 last season, Brown had some on and off field issues with his Steeler teammates, specifically the quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. This caused him to skip practices and be benched the last game, which was a must win for Pittsburgh’s playoff chances.
With the Steelers missing the playoffs, Antonio Brown demanded he be traded from the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. The Steelers traded Brown away to the Oakland Raiders, receiving a 3rd and 5th round pick in next year’s NFL draft. Brown also got a three-year contract worth 50 million dollars and 30 million guaranteed.
The deal was a risk due to Brown’s behavior, which some experts have called childish, even calling him a “clown.” During training camp and OTAs (organized team activities) Brown threw a temper tantrum over his helmet. He flipped out on coaches and tried to sneak in his old helmet hoping no one would notice. The issue was finally resolved after heated exchanges with the coaching staff.
During July, Antonio Brown received cryotherapy and the bottom of his feet were severely frost-bitten. To make matters worse, his helmet issue was not over, as he still complained about the new helmets and demanded he get his old one or he wouldn’t play another down in the NFL ever again.
In early September, days before the regular season started, Brown got into a physical altercation with general manager of the Raiders, Mike Mayock. This caused the team to seriously consider suspending the all-pro wide receiver. If Brown had been suspended the guaranteed money in his contract, roughly 30 million, would be void and he wouldn’t get a penny of it.
On the Friday night before week one, Brown released an in-depth video of the conversation between Raider’s coach Jon Gruden and himself. Gruden said he didn’t mind the video but other people surrounding the organization did.
The next day, Antonio Brown demanded on Instagram that he be released by the Raider’s organization entirely. Within hours his wish became a reality, and he was officially a free agent, but not for long. Before experts could begin to speculate where he would land, Brown signed with the New England Patriots, signing a one-year deal worth 15 million dollars with 9 million guaranteed.
As with all deals and trades there are always a few teams and players that benefit and others that simply lose out on the entire situation.
The first winner is Antonio Brown. The Steelers ship was sinking, and many former Steelers agreed with Brown about Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership. He then was released from the Raiders organization which last year had 4 wins and 12 losses.
The second winner of this deal is the New England Patriots. Without having to give up any players or draft picks, they managed to secure a top talent wide receiver. If Brown has behavioral issues, they can easily void his one-year contract with little risk.
The biggest losers are the Raiders. They traded away two draft picks and received practically nothing but a massive headache. Another team that lost is the Steelers. The organization explicitly said they would not trade with the Patriots even though they had offered more picks and compensation.
The rest of the NFL suffers as well. Last year Antonio Brown still scored the most touchdowns of any wide receiver in the game, despite missing a week, proving he is still a pro bowl caliber receiver. This upcoming season he will be surrounded by talent. His new quarterback is arguably the best to ever play the game; Tom Brady. Brown will be lined up with Josh Gordon and Super Bowl 53 MVP Julian Edelman as well. Even if Brown’s production goes down, the Patriots drastically improve their chances to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
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