The Antonio Brown Saga, which felt like it was going on and on and on, has finally came to an end as the star wide receiver has been traded to the Oakland Raiders. The deal was reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN and by Pro Football Talk and then Brown took to his Twitter to make his announcement that he was going to be joining Raider Nation.
The compensation for Brown will be the Raiders sending a third-round and a fifth-round pick to the Steelers. That is an absolute steal for the Raiders when you look at just giving up two mid-round picks for one of the better players in the league at his position.
When it comes to Brown the numbers tell the story about his on the field talent. He is a seven-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro, has lead the league in receiving yards twice (2014 and 2017), has lead the league in catches twice (2014 and 2015), has 74 career touchdowns, including a league-leading 15 this past season and has 11,207 yards during his career.
Brown has also caught at least 100 passes each of the last six seasons.
On top of being a big-time big-play threat, Brown has caught a pretty good percentage of the balls thrown to him over the course of his career.
How he fits into the Raiders will be interesting. In terms of yards per pass attempt, Oakland was pretty average this past season, ranking at 19th in the league, but worse than that was touchdowns. Derek Carr threw all of the teams touchdown passes last season and it was only 19, so Brown had nearly as many touchdown catches as the Raiders threw touchdowns last season.
The bright side of that is that the Raiders had no receivers even close to the talent level that Brown possesses. They did have Amari Cooper, but he wasn’t playing at the level in Oakland that he began playing at when he got traded to Dallas. Another good thing is that coming off of a back injury the year before, Derek Carr did perform better as the season went along. He threw eight of his ten interceptions in the teams first five games and after that he didn’t throw any until two in the last game of the season. So Carr did start to show signs of life late in the season after a terrible start to the season where people started to think he might be done, because he looked like he was afraid to get hit.
Antonio Brown seems like the kind of player that is going to put up numbers regardless of where he is, and Carr is a fairly-capable quarterback, so I expect Brown to put up pretty similar numbers to what he has over the course of his career, even though he’ll no longer be playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback.
The fact that he won’t be playing with a quarterback the caliber of Ben Roethlisberger could lead to an adjustment period, but from all reports, it’s hard to imagine that Brown will end up having a worse relationship with Carr than he did with Roethlisberger by the end.
I’m sure there will be some sort of Honeymoon phase with Brown and the Raiders, but it wouldn’t shock me one bit to see him create drama in Oakland and now he’ll be playing somewhere that doesn’t have the history of having a great culture like Pittsburgh does, but we will obviously have to wait and see on that. For now, he’s out of Pittsburgh and he’s gotten a good chunk of guaranteed money, so he should be happy.
While the risk is there that adding Brown to your locker room could lead to drama, giving up only a third and fifth-round pick is a slam dunk and a move that I can’t imagine any team in the league wouldn’t make for one of the premier players in the league at his position.
Brown was rated a little bit down than the rest of his career this past season by Pro Football Focus and he will be 31-years old by the time the season starts, so there is some risk that a drop in production could be coming, but like I said, giving up two mid-round picks for a Hall of Fame receiver is well worth the risk, especially when you consider the lack of weapons the Raiders had last season when their best weapon was probably Jared Cook.
Oakland also has a ton of cap space so giving Brown a lot of guaranteed money right now shouldn’t be too much of a concern and getting a weapon for Carr was a big need this offseason and they were able to add one of the best without giving up one of their three first-round picks, so they could use one of those picks to add another weapon or they could go defense or offensive line with those picks, which would be wise in my opinion.
For the Steelers they are now in an interesting place. They had two of the better skill-players in the NFL two seasons ago with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, and now neither of them are in Pittsburgh anymore.
It’s clear that this is Ben Roethlisberger’s franchise and I think they will still be in a position to be good because of their offensive line and because they still have guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald.
The really painful part financially is that the Pittsburgh will have $21 million in dead cap space now this season because of Brown, so they won’t be able to go out and immediately make something happen with a ton of cap space, but in the long-term they will have more cap space and frankly I think the Steelers are going to be due for somewhat of a rebuild pretty soon as the roster has aged, but in the short-term I still think they will be competitive.
What a start to the NFL offseason we’ve had.
Top Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images