The Oakland Raiders agreed on a deal on Sunday to acquire the prolific but disgruntled wide receiver (WR) Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers and will give him the lucrative new contract he wanted. Sources say the Raiders will give Brown a new three-year contract worth $50.1m instead of the $38.9m, he was owed by Pittsburgh. Pro Football Talk first reported the deal and says Pittsburgh will get third and fifth-round draft picks from Oakland.
Since the season came to an end for the superstar his anger towards the front office has grown and it ultimately ended with him being traded to the Raiders.
The deal though cannot be completed until the new league year starts on Wednesday, has yet to be acknowledged by either team, but it was reported by multiple news outlets on Saturday and was confirmed by Brown and several other Oakland players on social media. Brown posted a picture of himself in a Raiders uniform, and his new teammates began eagerly welcoming him to the organization.
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) March 10, 2019
The trade, which is reportedly in exchange for two draft picks (in the third and fifth rounds), would make final what became a very messy and very public divorce between Brown and the team that helped turn him into one of the top 5 wide receivers of his generation. Brown who was a 2010 6th round draft pick (195 overall) spent eight years with the Pittsburgh franchise and has over 11,000 career rushing yards and 74 touchdowns to his name. In the last 6 years Brown has recorded at least 1,200 receiving yards. Putting those numbers to perspective, only one Raider, the Hall of Famer Tim Brown in 1997, has reached those figures in a single season.
The separation though comes as no surprise and has been a couple of years in the making. Brown has long had a frosty relationship with Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin, as well as other prominent members of the Steelers’ locker-room. Management, and by extension Roethlisberger, believe the quarterback helped turn Brown into a star; Brown though believes his greatness has helped Roethlisberger age gracefully.
The 30-year-old WR has continually complained about his lack of touches, despite being the most targeted receiver in football. In response, the Steelers have churned the leak-machine into overdrive. There have been accusations of pouting; concerns that Brown cares too much about individual achievements, not the collective. Demanding a new contract with atleast $30 million guaranteed income was not something the Steelers franchise was ready to accept and thus were ready to hear offers for the WR.
The winners of the draft are quite clearly the Raiders. Head coach Jon Gruden now again has a superstar to work with again. The raiders management took a lot of flack after the team traded away two of the team’s biggest stars last year in edge rusher Khalil Mack and receiver Amari Cooper. Oakland got extra first-round picks in those trades but didn’t need to give up any of its four picks in the top 35 in the upcoming draft to acquire the veteran Brown. Brown is now set to become quarterback Derek Carr’s biggest offensive weapon since Carr entered the league in 2014.
I’m Ready… pic.twitter.com/K9EZVna0VV
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) March 10, 2019
The impetus is now on the up and coming Juju Smith-Schuster to carry the Steelers receiving offense line into the 2019 season.
(Compiled by Shivayan Roy with inputs from The New York Times, The Guardian, ESPN and Sports Illustrated)