Antonio Brown is joining the Oakland Raiders after a bitter divorce with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After Brown demanded a trade, the Steelers obliged with a deal with Oakland, according to Pro Football Talk.
Pittsburgh will receive third- and fifth-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
The deal comes about 48 hours after a report late Thursday night that Brown was about to be traded to the Buffalo Bills. The receiver reportedly nixed that deal, and by Friday morning the Bills released a statement saying they “moved on.”
That setback evidently didn’t slow the Steelers down from getting a deal done. And Brown appears to be much happier with his new destination.
Brown’s departure from Pittsburgh ends months of drama that came to a head at the end of the 2018 season. Now, he’ll join Jon Gruden and the Raiders, and get a sizable pay increase too.
Per source, Antonio Brown's three-year haul will increase from $38.925 million to $50.125 million, per source. No new years will be added.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 10, 2019
Why did the Steelers want to part with Brown?
It was less that Pittsburgh wanted to part with Brown and more that the receiver was begging to be somewhere else.
His frustrations with the team came to a head in December when he was held out of the team’s crucial Week 17 finale after missing a string of team activities leading up to the season finale. The Steelers won without him, but they still wound up on the outside of the postseason picture.
Immediately after the season ended, Brown started angling for a trade — even posting an edited photo of himself in a 49ers uniform. On Feb. 12, he said goodbye to Steelers fans and a week later he met with team owner Art Rooney, who agreed it was time for a split.
Had a great meeting with Mr.Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues! We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod #Boomin pic.twitter.com/DEgURchvhW— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 19, 2019
The crux of the problem, according to Brown, was a lack of respect from the team. He talked about it some on HBO’s The Shop.
Specifically, Brown was unhappy with the way he was treated by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He complained about the quarterback on Twitter and talked about how he was bothered by Roethlisberger calling out Brown’s route-running earlier in the season.
“All year dude called me out. We’d lose a game and he’d be like, ‘AB should have ran a better route’,” Brown said on The Shop. “That’s the type of guy he is. He feels like he’s the owner. Bro, you threw that shit to the D-line, how the fuck am I running a bad route? You need to give me a better ball.”
Brown leaves the Steelers with the second most receptions (837), receiving yards (11,207), and receiving touchdowns (74) in franchise history.
Why did the Raiders trade for Brown?
Well ... because he’s really good.
Brown has eclipsed 1,250 receiving yards in six consecutive seasons — something only he and Torry Holt have ever done. He’s the only receiver to ever top 100 receptions six years in a row. No other receiver even did it five consecutive times.
The downside is that Brown is going to turn 31 in July and he’s not exactly cheap. Pittsburgh will eat a lot of his contract, but a restructured deal will take up a sizable chunk of the Raiders’ salary cap.
Either way, there’s no doubt that the Raiders offense just got better with the addition of Brown.
The Raiders finished the 2018 season No. 28 in points scored. The team traded away Amari Cooper prior to the trade deadline, leaving Jordy Nelson as the leading wide receiver and tight end Jared Cook as Derek Carr’s top weapon.
After trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, the priority for the Raiders was adding premium, elite talent to build around. Brown’s age might not make him a cornerstone for the Raiders, but he’s a skill position player that will force defenses to account for his abilities. That alone could be huge in getting Derek Carr’s career trajectory back on track.
It’s a frustrating ending for the Steelers, and a risky proposition for the Raiders. But the real winner of the trade is Brown who got exactly what he wanted.