Oakland Raiders: Antonio Brown would be nightmare for Silver and Black

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 16: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a 17 yard touchdown reception in the first quarter during the game against the New England Patriots at Heinz Field on December 16, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 16: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a 17 yard touchdown reception in the first quarter during the game against the New England Patriots at Heinz Field on December 16, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders need a legit WR1 and it just so happens there is one on the market. However, they should resist the temptation to trade for Antonio Brown.

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden rolled into town for his second tour of duty with the team like a conquering hero. All he needed was to be riding in on the back of a Roman chariot as the masses cheered and called his name. He was heralded by the fans as heartily as Caesar was back in the day.

That changed quickly though, and the howls and curses of discontent only grew louder as the losses mounted. By the end of their 2018 campaign, Gruden went from prodigal son to practically a Raider Nation pariah.

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What became clear over the course of the season though, was his commitment to rebuilding this team in his image. And after a 4-12 first season that saw him ship out a couple of the team’s cornerstone pieces in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, the teardown phase of the rebuild seems complete.

Now comes the hard part – the actual rebuild.

And of course, with so many glaring holes on this roster, fans are trying to plug them with every big name that is even rumored to be available. We’ve heard calls for Gruden and the Raiders to snatch up Le’Veon Bell, Odell Beckham Jr. – and a laundry list of others.

Which of course makes the latest shiny thing fans are clamoring for unsurprising as many are pushing for Gruden to go get almost-former Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown.

On paper, it makes sense. With a receiving corps that looks like Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboards on their worst day, the Raiders obviously have a dire need for a dynamic, field-stretching wideout. And it appears that Brown is going to be sporting another team’s colors next season.

And lots of people lately are connecting those two dots without considering what sits between them.

Is Brown an elite talent? Yeah, of course. Does he put up numbers? Absolutely. Does he have a hell of a lot of baggage? Yes. Is he a prima donna and potential locker room cancer? Well, yeah.

And most importantly — should the Raiders make an effort to deal for him? Absolutely not.

While there is no denying Brown’s talent and productivity, you can’t escape the fact that his “me first” attitude is anathema to what Gruden is trying to build with the Raiders. Gruden demands that his players put the team first and buy into his program. Guys who don’t or won’t get cut – just ask Marquette King.

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From a practical standpoint, the Steelers aren’t going to let Brown walk without extracting every drop of blood from that stone. Whatever team deals for him is going to pay a hefty price in terms of compensation.

Now, some might say that with three first-round picks this year, the Raiders have the capital to make a deal. Yeah, perhaps. But, are you really going to send potentially multiple first-rounders to Pittsburgh for a 30-year-old receiver with a long history of divisive and malcontented behavior?

Why would you roll the dice on a guy who regularly takes pot shots at teammates, rips the coaches, and is all about himself? And that’s when he was on a team that won regularly in Pittsburgh. What is he going to be like when he has to endure a couple of seasons that may be a bit more rough as the Raiders transition to Las Vegas and continue rebuilding?

It’s also worth remembering that one of the first things Gruden did was to ship Michael Crabtree out of town. Crabtree put up some solid numbers while with the team and had a fantastic chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr – when they were winning. When the losing started, Crabtree became a distraction. He became a malcontent and a locker room cancer who even took himself out of a game.

Yeah, Brown has a lot more talent than Crabtree, but the point remains – why would you intentionally put your team in a position to have that sort of turmoil in the locker room? And it would be intentional because we all know exactly who Brown is and what he’s about.

Many will point to the affordability of Brown’s contract as a key selling point. Per Sportrac, in 2019, his deal calls for him to make $12.6 million, $11.3 million in 2020, and $12.5 million in 2021. It’s a modest salary for a dynamic WR1 by today’s standards to be sure.

However, the guaranteed money in the five-year $72.7 million deal he signed with Pittsburgh in 2017 is already gone and despite having a contract that runs through 2021, Brown is already rumbling on social media about not being willing to play for a team without more guaranteed money thrown at him to sweeten the pot.

"“If your team got guaranteed money, tell them call me. AB can’t do no more unguarantees. So we clear. I want ya’ll to be clear and understand something. This is not a game, people. This is not for show; this is not to be cool. This is strictly to inspire you that no one can determine your destination but you.”"

What isn’t clear is what Brown means by “unguarantees,” since he’s already received the guaranteed money the contract he signed called for. What is clear is that this is Brown doing what he does best – being all about himself.

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It’s at this point, if you’re still on the AB to the Raiders bandwagon that you should be asking yourself a serious question: why in the hell would Gruden give up multiple high draft picks in compensation, only to have to then turn around and negotiate a new deal with Brown to satisfy his “more guaranteed money” contract demand at the very real risk of Brown holding out to have that demand met?

Brown is a supreme talent, there is no question. But he would be a nightmare to deal with and he is anathema to what Gruden has stated he wants to build with this team. As talented and dynamic as he is, it would be a massive mistake to deal for him.

There are a number of very explosive, very dynamic playmaking pass catchers in this year’s draft. Guys who come in younger, cheaper, and with far less baggage than Brown brings. Drafting a young wideout – or two – would bolster the offense without costing nearly as much, and not creating havoc and drama within the locker room and organization.

Next. Should the Raiders re-sign Jared Cook?. dark

Gruden and the Raiders should be focusing their attention and resources on one of the young receivers in the draft rather than making a big mistake and dealing away valuable draft capital on a malcontent who would be a nightmare for the organization to deal with.

Just say no, Jon. Just say no.