Antonio Brown is on his way to the Oakland Raiders, and here’s how the deal grades out for his new team and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Despite appearing to have no leverage beyond going scorched earth on everyone, Antonio Brown has gotten his wish for a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network was first to report Brown is headed to the Oakland Raiders, in exchange for third and fifth-round picks in next month’s draft.
Brown will also get his wish for a reworked contract, as the Raiders will reportedly give him $30 million in guaranteed money and push the total value of the three years he’s got left on his deal from $38.9 million to just over $50 million.
Brown is getting a notable downgrade at quarterback, from Ben Roethlisberger to Derek Carr, along with broader downgrades to the talent around him. It’s easy to see Brown quickly becoming openly frustrated with Carr’s limitations, but he’s got some new money to soothe his pain.
Raiders Grade: B
Brown will turn 31 before the 2019 season starts (July 10), so the Raiders are making a significant financial bet he’ll maintain his level of performance for a few more years. Even with some erosion from that bankable level, with a least 101 catches, over 1,200 yards and no less than eight touchdowns (double-digits four times) in six straight seasons, Brown should deliver well in line with his compensation level.
One of Oakland’s leading receivers last year, tight end Jared Cook, is set to leave in free agency. That leaves wide receiver Jordy Nelson as the only other non-running back to top 50 catches last season (63), and he needed 38 catches over the final five games to get there. So Brown is filling a clear void, as Carr enters what could be his final season as the Raiders’ quarterback.
Not only did Pittsburgh only get third- and fifth-round picks for one of the NFL’s best wide receivers, they are also taking on a crippling $21.2 million in dead money for this year by trading Brown.
But on the other hand, the Steelers have removed a big headache. Brown’s relationship with Roethlisberger had pretty clearly dissolved to the point of no return, and with the organization making their commitment to the quarterback clear it was a battle Brown was not going to win. But until he got what he wanted, perhaps with an easy assumption Roethlisberger wanted him gone, there were no signs the self-dubbed “Mr. Big Chest” was going to stop creating a distraction.
Removing that distraction is all that keeps the Steelers from getting a resounding ‘F’ here.