Gronk retired from New England last offseason. Luck followed with Indianapolis after the third preseason game.
Brown basically did the same by inventing ways to not practice or play for the Oakland Raiders this preseason. Despite just signing a rich, new contract, he all but dared the Raiders to fire him — frostbitten feet, helmet disputes, threatening to beat up the general manager, social media antics.
It became embarrassing to watch. Gruden backed him in front of the “Hard Knocks” cameras. On Thursday, the day after Brown reportedly threatened to punch general manager Mike Mayock in the face, Gruden declared, “Deep down, I think he’s a really good guy.” On Friday, Brown apologized to the team and Gruden enthused, “We’re really excited.” Offensive coordinator Greg Olson said the team had game-planned for Brown to be active against Denver in the Monday night opener and claimed that Brown was “in a great place right now, mentally.”
Was Antonio Brown saga a ploy? A Patriots game? Or just Raiders as usual?
Finally on Saturday morning, he demanded his release and Oakland obliged, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Antonio Brown and the Patriots are a match so crazy it just might work
Hell yes they should. Then they should hope that he expresses a willingness to actually play. It would be like getting a Gronk or Luck to unretire.
Thirty of the leagues 32 teams no doubt have had or will have a discussion about bringing Brown in. Pittsburgh and Oakland clearly want no part of him.
Everyone else should kicking the tires on this because you simply cant find guys like this every day. Forget culture and chemistry and character. You win in the NFL with talent more than anything.
If hes on the field, Brown can deliver those. Hes a Hall of Fame-caliber talent. He posted six consecutive seasons of at least 100 receptions, at least 1,200 yards and at least eight touchdowns (including 15 last year for the Steelers). He changes an offense just by being on the field.
Better yet, you really cant find guys like this for what will presumably be a low-guarantee, incentive and performance bonus-rich deal that limits risk.
Brown was a disaster for Oakland because they sent a third-round and a fifth-round pick to Pittsburgh to get him. They also signed him to a three-year contract with some $30 million guaranteed, but by letting him go early they likely are out from under that.
The obvious chatter is the New England Patriots, who were apparently willing to trade for Brown last offseason. Brown released a taped conversation between he and agent Drew Rosenhaus about the Patriots trying to work a deal with the Steelers, who had become so desperate to get rid of Brown that they were inclined to trade a star to a conference rival.
I think the Steelers are taking it very seriously and trying to get it done, Rosenhaus said at the time. And thats why theyre willing to consider New England. Think about that, think about playing with the greatest quarterback in NFL history, and hes a cool guy.
On the tape Rosenhaus also mentioned Philadelphia, Washington, Tennessee, Buffalo and Oakland as also being interested.
On Saturday, Brown looked like a crazy fool for a few hours, then crazy like a fox. In contrast, Gruden and the Raiders, who catered and begged and misjudged Brown from the start, look like they got played.
And that was when teams had to give something up to get the right to sign him to a huge contract. Now? Hes cheap. Heck, hes practically free.
Will he create some drama and not report? Perhaps. Will he cause mayhem in the locker room if things are perfect? Probably. Will he tape record phone conversations with the coach? You cant rule anything out.
If Brown could blow up your locker room in a matter of a few weeks, then it was far too fragile to begin with.
The Patriots always made sense, if you thought Brown would find a landing spot. And talent almost always wins out in the NFL, even if you commit a crime, which Brown did not.
Look, if Brown goes to the Patriots, he has to know that taping a phone conversation with Bill Belichick — as he did with Oaklands Jon Gruden — would result in a beheading, not just a cutting. But maybe the chance to do what Rosenhaus said and play with the greatest quarterback in NFL history (and a cool guy) in Tom Brady is enough.
Or maybe a contender such as Philly. Brown supposedly wanted to be with a championship-caliber team when he was leaving Pittsburgh. He wound up in Oakland, which doesnt fit that description.
Money couldnt motivate him. Guaranteed millions couldnt make him play. Just like Luck. Just like Gronk.
Can anything? Its worth New England, Philly and everyone else to try to find out. Theres almost nothing to lose.
Brown, who shined with the Pittsburgh Steelers before an extremely short and acrimonious stint with the Oakland Raiders, expressed his excitement via social media.
Browns fellow Patriots wide receiver made it clear hes excited to play alongside a former rival.
The former Patriot didnt understand how the sequence of events transpired and why Brown did what he did.
Wait so Antonio Brown signed with the Raiders for 30mill, starts a bunch of antics right before the season to only sign with the Patriots for 15mill. I dont quite get it! 🤔🤦🏾♂️
Samuel saw this coming. The former Patriot knows a thing or two about how things work in New England, and he looked into his crystal ball and accurately predicted the future.
Brown, a former wide receiver, acknowledged it must have been tough for the Raiders to let Brown walk, but he said they did what they had to given the circumstances.
And just like that, ITS OVER! I would just like to commend @Raiders on this decision. Im sure this is the last decision they wanted to make but right is right! #FORWARD
The ESPN analyst pointed out how both Randy Moss and Brown didnt do a whole lot in Oakland before coming to the Patriots.
Randy Moss (prior to joining NE): 30 years old, in season prior to joining NE he set career-lows in catches, yards & TD in OAK, had 73 TD receptions his previous 7 seasons
Antonio Brown: 31 years old, a few months spent on OAKs roster, 72 TD receptions his previous 7 seasons.
Breer, a Sports Illustrated reporter, put the move into perspective, highlighting the past work of Josh Gordon, Brown, Demaryius Thomas, and Edelman.
In 2013, Josh Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards, Antonio Brown was second, and Demaryius Thomas was fourth. That same year, Brown was second in catches and Julian Edelman was fourth.
Im letting it be known right now I hate the New England patriots now like I dislike the cowboys! pic.twitter.com/xBRVFxf8AT