Antonio Brown trade grades: Steelers get punked, but Raiders not necessarily winners

first_imgMeh. Maybe. Maybe not.MORE: Antonio Brown can avoid Terrell Owens path with RaidersFor a handful of reasons, the Raiders, who in trading for the 30-year-old Brown are also obligated to stuff his contract with a reported $30.125 million in guarantees on a three-year deal, should not walk away from the table feeling like they punked the Steelers. (If anyone, Brown is the one who punked the Steelers in forcing their hand.) We expand below.Antonio Brown trade gradesSteelers get: 2019 third-round draft pick, 2019 fifth-round draft pickRaiders get: WR Antonio Brown (with restructured contract)Steelers: FThe Steelers were never going to “win” any trade involving Brown in 2019, not with the dead cap charge with which they were set to be stuck no matter what. According to Spotrac, the $21.12 million Brown will count against Pittsburgh’s cap in 2019, while he plays for Oakland, is “more than 17 teams have allocated to all of their WRs combined.” Such a charge is believed to be the biggest one-year dead cap hit in NFL history.But Pittsburgh received a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick in exchange for the receiver they had hoped would attract at least one first-rounder in a trade. Yikes.To be fair, the Steelers had no control over the measures Brown took — purposefully or not — to wreck his own trade value. Social-media nonsense aside, Brown’s desire to earn fresh guarantees on a new contact with his next team reportedly trimmed the market to a handful of suitors. We likely will never know what the Bills might have sent the Steelers in the trade that fell through because, at least in part, Brown did not want to play in Buffalo.MORE: How Steelers’ financial failures will endureIt is worth repeating that the Steelers did not have to trade Brown. General manager Kevin Colbert said as much at the NFL Combine and suggested Pittsburgh could keep the disgruntled receiver in 2019 in the absence of an adequate deal. So much for that. Evidently, the Steelers did feel an obligation to trade Brown, likely related to locker-room dynamics. There is no other explanation for their accepting such a lousy return.The potential net positive that comes with the shedding of an unhappy player is the only silver lining for Pittsburgh in such a financial failure. And this is indeed a financial failure, by the way — not a football failure.Brown will be 31 when he plays his first snap for the Raiders. The Steelers got 74 receiving touchdowns and 11,207 receiving yards out of him in 130 regular-season games over the last nine seasons, and he was named first-team All-Pro four times. With the trio of Brown, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Le’Veon Bell in and out of the offensive lineup from 2013-17, Pittsburgh won 66 percent of its games, earned three AFC North championships and went 3-3 in the playoffs.Yet some consider the Steelers’ lack of a Super Bowl title in that span an indictment due to the talent among the trio. That puts way too much weight on the impact three players can have on a game in which each team dresses 46 men.The Steelers might have failed in this Brown trade, but they did not fail with Brown. In the early hours of Sunday morning, soon after news broke that the Steelers were trading wide receiver Antonio Brown to the Raiders in exchange for a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Sporting News contributor and NFL salary-cap expert Jason Fitzgerald said it best: “I don’t know how you spin this as anything (but) a disaster” for Pittsburgh.SN’s Mike DeCourcy expressed the same sentiment when he called the Brown deal the Steelers’ “most depressing front-office failure since they cut Johnny Unitas in training camp.” All of this must mean Oakland pulled off a heist in landing one of the league’s top receivers. How will that person react if the Raiders, who went 4-12 last season under first-year coach Jon Gruden and are now under the control of first-year GM Mike Mayock, struggle again in 2019? With an extra $30 million already in the bank, why would the player who recently threatened to retire — “I don’t even need the game; I don’t need to prove nothing to anyone” — want to deal with the issues associated with a franchise that hasn’t won its division in 17 years and is in no position to do so anytime soon?Maybe Brown will, and maybe the Raiders’ significant upgrade at a position of need will inject some life into the franchise ahead of its move to Las Vegas. Maybe the qualities that turned a sixth-round draft pick into an All-Pro will become a contagious, motivating factor in Oakland’s locker room. As his career closes, maybe Brown will stick with the Raiders through the duration of his contract, if not longer, as the team competes for titles.But there are enough signs — and at least one precedent — for one to believe the exact opposite might happen.center_img Raiders: COn the surface, the Raiders did well in their acquisition of Brown. The draft picks are relatively low-cost assets to give up for a player of his caliber, and the money they reportedly will pay him in a new deal was a prerequisite for the trade.This deal looks even better for Oakland when one considers the Amari Cooper trade the team made with Dallas in October. Including that swap, the Raiders essentially traded Cooper, a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick for Brown and a first-round pick. Include the Khalil Mack trade Oakland made before the 2018 season, and you get the full picture:Net for the 3 major Raiders trades.Raiders give up:Khalil MackAmari Cooper2019 3rd round2019 5th round2020 2nd round2020 6th roundIn exchange for:Antonio Brown2019 1st round2019 1st round2020 1st round2020 2nd round2020 5th round— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) March 10, 2019In isolation, this Brown-to-Raiders deal would be great … if Oakland were a more stable franchise, if Brown were a few years younger and if there were reasons to believe his sudden turn to a Terrell Owens-like path late in his career will not continue.Brown had one clear motivation when he pushed himself away from one of the NFL’s sturdiest franchises. Chances are he would have earned most of the $38.925 million the Steelers were scheduled to pay him over the next three seasons, but none of it was guaranteed. Now, per Pro Football Talk, $30.125 million of his $50.125 million contract with the Raiders is guaranteed over the same three-year period.So one can presume Brown is a happy man. Maybe too happy.Former Steelers offensive coordinator and current Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told ESPN’s Adam Schefter in January that, despite his continued production, Brown in 2019 is not the same guy Pittsburgh drafted in 2010. Some have traced his erratic behavior back to the five-year, $68 million contract he received in 2017.MORE: How Antonio Brown trade impacts Raiders’ Super Bowl oddslast_img

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