Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown’s Contract Demands Nixed Offer Of First-Round Pick?

Antonio Brown‘s offseason has produced numerous headlines, that spree continuing after his arrival in Oakland. But not a ton of clarity emerged on what other offers the Steelers received for their perennial All-Pro wide receiver.

The Raiders swooped in after the Bills’ brief talks regarding Brown ended without a deal, landing a player on course for the Hall of Fame for third- and fifth-round picks. Interested teams had issues with Brown’s demand for a new contract, one of which apparently was ready to submit a much better proposal to the Steelers.

Brown’s financial demands stopped at least one team from offering a first-round pick, Jeremy Fowler and Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com report. Had the 30-year-old wideout been available without seeking another new contract, the ESPN duo notes Pittsburgh may well have acquired an extra first-round pick — presumably in 2019. However, teams knew a month prior to the trade that acquiring the mercurial wideout meant negotiating a new contract.

A slew of suitors emerged for Brown, in addition to the Bills, the Eagles, Saints, Titans and Redskins among them. The Bills were believed to be ready to swap first-rounders with the Steelers and part with two mid-round picks. That is the best known offer for Brown, and Fowler reports the Steelers felt strongly about the Bills’ proposal. The Patriots were indeed interested as well but the Steelers held firm on their stance not to do a deal with them.

After some convincing, the Raiders agreed to amend Brown’s contract. The Steelers dropped their asking price to those third- and fifth-rounders, with Kevin Colbert optimistic about the teams trying again — after some failed early talks on March 8 — to get a deal done. Brown ended up with $30MM in additional guarantees. The Steelers hold the Raiders’ No. 66 and No. 141 overall picks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Brown, Draft, Johnson, Texans

The Antonio Brown saga was the defining story of the NFL season. It dominated news coverage in the aftermath of the Super Bowl, all the way up until he was finally traded to the Raiders. But the drama apparently didn’t end there. Brown’s trade has implications for every team in the league, and for every player who may want to force his way out in the future. The league has taken note, and teams are apparently quite concerned. “Multiple high-ranking sources” told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that they’re fearful “Brown forcing his way out of a contract with three years left” will set a “dangerous” precedent.

Executives were outraged by the move according to Fowler, and one source derided the fact that Brown essentially acted like a free agent in picking his new team. “Other star players see this and might want to do the same,” another source said. Another source was surprised that Pittsburgh decided to cave and meet Brown’s demands instead of playing hardball, saying it was “un-Steeler-like” of the organization. It remains to be seen whether Brown’s actions will actually inspire other players to follow suit, but the league is clearly getting ready to fight back in case they do.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Draft talk is starting to heat up, and the latest rumblings we’re hearing are from a report out of Ole Miss’ pro day from Tony Pauline of Draftanalyst.com. Pauline reports that the Jaguars and Broncos are both “very interested” in tight end Dawson Knox. Pauline also writes that the Cowboys have been “throwing a lot of love” Knox’s way. All three teams have unsettled futures at tight end, so the interest makes a lot of sense. Knox is in the second tier of tight ends behind the top group, and could be a nice pickup sometime in the middle rounds.
  • Legendary receiver Andre Johnson has joined the Texans’ front office as an adviser, and he doesn’t plan on stopping there. Johnson wants to work his way up through the organization and eventually be a front office head one day, he told John McClain of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). “I’m learning the business of the game. I thought I might want to be a GM or run a team. I want to do everything I can to help the Texans win their first Super Bowl,” the future Hall of Fame member said. Johnson was one of the best receivers in the game for a long time, and holds nearly every Texans receiving record that there is. Johnson was hired last month to work with the team’s coaching and scouting staffs, according to a separate post from McClain.

49ers Did Not Pursue Antonio Brown

The 49ers had interest in trading for Odell Beckham Jr. before the Giants shipped him to the Browns, but they did not go after this year’s other available star wide receiver. In an interview with KNBR, 49ers GM John Lynch said that he did not engage in talks with the Steelers for Antonio Brown

We took a quick look and then we just said, ‘Hey, we’re not interested in that for our team,’” Lynch said (Twitter link via Matt Barrows of The Athletic). “That’s where we are. I think we feel pretty good about our receiving corps. I know a lot of people don’t share our sentiments.”

Brown, of course, went to the Bay Area’s other NFL team in exchange for third- and fifth-round picks. If Brown reverts to his old form in Oakland, there may be questions about the Niners’ lack of interest in the future Hall of Famer.

Meanwhile, Lynch indicated that the Niners’ possession of the No. 2 overall pick in the draft actually complicated trade talks with the Giants. The Giants were looking to come away with an additional first-round pick for 2019, but the Niners were unwilling to give up their valuable position.

I think, ironically, the fact that we had the No. 2 pick made it more difficult because they wanted that badly,” Lynch said (Twitter link). “They wanted two No. 1s. And we weren’t willing to part with that. It was too valuable of a pick.”

The Niners, who did not land Brown or OBJ, are set to feature a receiving corps headlined by Marquise Goodwin and Jordan Matthews. There will be opportunities to bolster the WR group in the draft, but there are no prospects that warrant consideration at No. 2 overall.

Given Lynch’s reluctance to part with the No. 2 pick, one can’t help but wonder if the Niners should have given more thought to a Brown pursuit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Pats, Mayo, Kraft, Bills, Fins

Longtime Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo will return to the club as linebackers coach, according to Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. Mayo, 33, retired at the conclusion of the 2015 campaign, and expressed no interest in coaching at the time. Viewed as a cerebral player with a strong work ethic, Mayo appeared in 93 games for New England after being selected 10th overall in the 2008 draft. He’ll be replacing Brian Flores, who was not only the Patriots’ LBs coach but de facto defensive coordinator before taking the Dolphins’ head coaching position this offseason.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Bills general manager Brandon Beane denied that Buffalo was ever close to acquiring wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Steelers, as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk writes. “We had productive talks with [GM] Kevin Colbert, with Pittsburgh, but one of the things I made clear with Kevin early on is we would have to be comfortable with where the compensation is going to have to be with AB’s representatives, and that was never something that we were even close on,” Beane said. Brown, of course, was subsequently traded to the Raiders for third- and fifth-round picks, and received a new contract with additional guarantees.
  • The NFL’s personal conduct policy will apply to Patriots owner Robert Kraft just as it applies to players, commissioner Roger Goodell told Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Goodell stopped short of declaring Kraft will be suspended, indicating a need for all the facts of Kraft’s solicitation case to come out. Kraft has rejected a plea deal from Florida prosecutors, and earlier this week pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanors.
  • Although the Dolphins haven’t publicly declared how they’ll use former first-round pick Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2019, sources tell Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that the Dolphins prefer to deploy Fitzpatrick as a safety. Fitzpatrick, the 11th overall selection in last year’s draft, can play both cornerback and safety, but Miami already has two safeties — Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald in place. If Fitzpatrick is deployed more in the back end, McDonald could conceivably see action as a sub-package linebacker.

Raiders, Bills GMs Discuss Antonio Brown Trade Talks

Earlier this week, the Steelers agreed to trade Antonio Brown to the Raiders in exchange for a third- and fifth-round pick in this year’s draft. However, that deal wouldn’t have even materialized if a reported Pittsburgh/Buffalo deal hadn’t fallen apart.

Appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said he initially told the Steelers that he was “not interested” in making a deal for the wide receiver. When Pittsburgh was willing to drop their asking price (and when trade talks with the Bills broke down), the two sides ended up agreeing on a trade.

“I kept saying we’re not interested,” Mayock said (via Andrew Perloff of the Dan Patrick Show on Twitter). “Then the Buffalo thing fell through. One of their guys reached out to Jon [Gruden]. … [Steelers GM] Kevin [Colbert] said to me, would you trade your two? I said no, but we might trade our three.”

The GM said similar things to Mike Florio earlier this week. Despite there potentially being two additional suitors for Brown, Mayock and the Raiders were still able to pull off the deal.

On the flip side, the Bills weren’t able to pull off a trade for Brown. Reports from last week indicated that Buffalo was on the cusp of acquiring the star wide receiver, but the deal ultimately broke down. While there have been several reports that the deal was nixed because of Brown’s unwillingness to play in Buffalo, Bills general manager Brandon Beane continues to claim that it was his decision to not make the trade. The executive told reporters (including ESPN’s Mike Rodak) that talks with Pittsburgh were “positive all around,” but the organization ultimately “just decided to withdraw.”

Brown’s decision to not join Buffalo has led some to claim that the Bills are not a free agent destination. Beane was quick to dismiss that “narrative,” saying the opinion “started with a bad rumor on the Antonio Brown thing when people were looking for reasons and didn’t have all the facts.”

“Don’t speak about Buffalo if you don’t know what this city and fan base is like,” Beane said. “It really pissed me off. It’s not true. How many [free agent signings] flowed through here today? … I can’t tell you how many players commented ‘This is amazing. This is awesome. What a facility. What a culture.’ This city, we love it. Anybody that says that doesn’t know Buffalo and really is speaking out of ignorance.”

The Bills have been relatively active in recent days. The added a pair of wideouts in Cole Beasley and John Brown, and they’ve also added Mitch MorseFrank GoreKevin Johnson, and Tyler Kroft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Notes: Brown, Bell, Williams, Joyner

The 49ers weren’t the only team to miss out on Le’Veon Bell. Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes that the Raiders made an offer to the star running back, and “there was some real buzz in the building” yesterday.

The reporter also notes that the Raiders thought they could land Bell if “money wasn’t the most important thing,” as the running back reportedly preferred to play for the Raiders. After missing out on Bell, the team also took a run at Mark Ingram, who ended up landing in Baltimore.

Bell ultimately agreed to a four-year, $52.5MM deal with the Jets, forcing the Raiders to look elsewhere for a running back. At the moment, the team is rostering three backs in DeAndre Washington, Chris Warren, and James Butler.

Let’s check out some more notes out of Oakland…

  • The Raiders weren’t even considering an Antonio Brown trade until the deal between the Steelers and Bills fell apart, general manager Mike Mayock told Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (Twitter link). The organization ultimately acquired the Pro Bowl wide receiver in exchange for a third- and fifth-round pick in this year’s draft.
  • The Raiders continued to show interest in wideout Tyrell Williams even after pulling off the Brown trade, according to Jason La Canfora (on Twitter). The team ended up agreeing to a four-year, $44MM deal ($22MM guaranteed) earlier today. La Canfora notes that several other teams pursued Williams, including the Ravens, Saints, Steelers, Jets. Many of those teams were offering contracts between $8MM and $9MM annually, with the 27-year-old ultimately receiving $11MM a season from the Raiders.
  • The Raiders are planning to rely on Lamarcus Joyner as their primary nickel cornerback, writes Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The 28-year-old has primarily played safety throughout his career, although he did play some cornerback early on his career. The team will occasionally deploy Joyner at safety, although Gehlken notes that the team could still add another player at the position. Joyner is set to sign a four years, $42MM deal with the Raiders.

Latest On Antonio Brown

After many twists and turns, the Antonio Brown saga finally came to an end when the Steelers agreed to trade the embattled receiver to the Raiders. To sort out everything that went down, Albert Breer of SI.com took a deep dive into the trade negotiations and broke down the events that led up to the agreement to send Brown to Oakland. While reports that Brown wanted a new contract only began trickling out in the past few days, Breer writes that teams were aware of his demands long before that. Breer notes that teams knew they’d have to give Brown a new contract if they traded for him a month ago, right when this all started.

It helps explains why things took so long to heat up, and why there weren’t too many known suitors. Brown’s demands apparently only got larger as the process went on, as Breer notes that “Brown went from initially wanting tweaks (getting existing money guaranteed, etc.) to wanting a big raise.” Breer confirms that a trade was indeed close with the Bills, and that after talks with Buffalo fell apart over money, the Eagles, Redskins and Raiders all reached out. Presumably, those were the three mystery teams “still alive” in this report from Friday. After the Raiders and Steelers agreed on draft compensation, “the deal was on the verge of crumbling” at one point Saturday as talks between Oakland and Brown’s agent hit an impasse. Obviously, things eventually got sorted out and Brown got the added money he was looking for.

Here’s more surrounding the All-Pro wideout:

  • While everyone just wants it to be over, things aren’t done quite yet. A source emphasized to Gerry Dulac of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link) that the “trade is agreement only and ‘it’s never over till it’s over.'” Interestingly, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network then tweeted that she was told “exactly the same thing” by a different member of the Steelers organization. This could turn out to be nothing, but it’s worth noting coming from multiple places. It would be fitting for things to fall apart now given how dramatic the whole ordeal has been.
  • Brown’s agent, NFL super-agent Drew Rosenhaus, appeared on NFL Network after the trade and said he got permission to negotiate with the Raiders on Brown’s behalf Friday afternoon, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). If that timeline is accurate, it would mean that Oakland had already received permission to negotiate with Brown when the trade with Buffalo was supposedly breaking down. Rosenhaus refused to say whether Brown would’ve reported to his new team if he hadn’t gotten a new contract. Rosenhaus also had praise for new Raiders GM Mike Mayock, saying he acted like a “veteran NFL GM” throughout the process.

 

Fallout From Antonio Brown Trade

Now that the Raiders have agreed to acquire Antonio Brown from the Steelers, you can be sure that more news about the deal (and the deals that were discussed, but never came to be), will be trickling in. We will monitor the AB fallout here throughout the course of the day, as the football world continues to process the conclusion of the biggest storyline of the offseason:

  • The Eagles did discuss Brown with the Steelers, but as ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets, those talks never got serious. Instead, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were simply doing their due diligence.
  • Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com suggests it was the new contract that Brown was demanding, rather than the draft picks, that scared the Eagles away (Twitter link).
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter) agrees with Shorr-Parks’ theory, saying that plenty of teams were willing to give up the third- and fifth-round picks that ultimately got the job done, but the Raiders were the only team that was willing to tear up Brown’s existing contract and give him a new one.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that the Bills were willing to swap 2019 first-round picks with the Steelers (No. 9 for No. 20) and trade away two mid-round picks, but it was Brown’s contract demands that proved to be the undoing of that potential deal.
  • La Canfora adds in a separate tweet that the Redskins were still engaged with the Steelers after the Bills deal fell through earlier in the week, but it is unclear how serious the Pittsburgh-Washington talks became.
  • Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com concedes that the Raiders easily got the better of the Steelers in this trade, but he reviews what Pittsburgh’s options were, and none of them were good (Twitter link). The Steelers could have cut Brown and received no trade compensation — which also would have allowed Brown to sign with any team he wanted, including a major conference rival — or they could have kept him, fined him when he didn’t report to camp, and hoped that he wouldn’t retire because he would have had to pay back $11MM if he did so.
  • Fowler also passes along a couple of Raiders-related notes in a separate tweet. A source close to Brown said the wideout was excited about joining the Raiders in part because of the presence of head coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr. Brown is also intrigued by the Raiders’ collection of high draft picks and young talent, and Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther — who had to devise many a game plan for Brown when he was the Bengals’ DC — strongly endorsed Brown’s game.
  • Plenty of people have been wondering why the Steelers didn’t demand one of the Raiders‘ three first-round draft picks before agreeing to deal Brown to Oakland, and NFL Insider Adam Caplan says the Raiders simply refused to do so (Twitter link). Although the Raiders would of course have preferred to give up one draft choice instead of two, the club was adamant about holding onto its three first-rounders and one second-rounder.
  • Although the Steelers‘ $21.12MM cap hit that they will have to absorb for Brown in 2019 is a killer, the trade does save the club $15MM in cash that can now be spent on other players, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes.
  • Brown’s contract with the Raiders has set a new benchmark for players like Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, and Michael Thomas, who will all cash in shortly.
  • Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com takes an excellent in-depth look at the saga and what it means for both teams.

Steelers To Trade Antonio Brown To Raiders

Hallelujah, the great storm is over. The Steelers have agreed to trade Antonio Brown to the Raiders in exchange for a third- and fifth-round pick in this year’s draft, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links). The news has since been confirmed by other major outlets, but Brown himself was (fittingly) the first to break the story, having posted a Photoshopped picture of himself in a Raiders uniform and a picture of himself and Oakland QB Derek Carr at the Pro Bowl (via Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area on Twitter).

RapSheet also tweets that Brown will get a new deal from the Raiders, which does not add any more time onto the three years he had remaining on his contract with the Steelers, but does make him the highest-paid receiver in the game from an AAV standpoint. Brown’s new pact with Oakland will pay him $50.125MM over the next three seasons, plus $4MM in incentives, for an AAV of $19.8MM. Plus, Brown gets $30.125MM in guarantees, and his contract with Pittsburgh had no guaranteed money left.

New Raiders GM Mike Mayock appears to have come out quite well in his first trade as the (figure)head of the Oakland front office, and the Steelers’ return has been universally panned. But as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette observes (via Twitter), and as we have expected for some time, Brown’s erratic behavior and demand for a new contract torpedoed the Steelers’ bargaining position. Also, the fact that Pittsburgh was willing to accept such a low return suggests that the club was never going to bring Brown back and that it was more concerned about ridding itself of Brown’s antics, as Dulac tweets.

The Raiders played the long game, per Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). The Raiders have long coveted Brown but believed they were out of the running for him as of Wednesday. However, they did not get desperate and try to up their offer, and in the end they got their man for their price. And the fact that they did not have to add any years onto Brown’s deal to convince him to sign off on the trade makes it even more of a coup.

So the Raiders get a dynamic wideout to assist in their rebuild and their transition to Las Vegas in 2020, but what about the Steelers? The trade adds some legitimacy to the speculation that the team is trying to appease quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at all costs — perhaps to stop him from retiring — and that the relationship between Brown and Big Ben had become truly untenable. Of course, the club has an excellent track record of finding top-tier receiver talent all over the draft, and they now add a second third-round choice to their 2019 draft capital along with a fifth-rounder to replace the one they sent to Oakland last season to acquire Ryan Switzer.

However, the trade is devastating from a salary cap perspective. As ESPN’s Field Yates tweets, Brown will now count for more against the Steelers’ cap in 2019 ($21.12MM) than any other WR will count for his own team. It is a tough pill to swallow, but as with every transaction of this magnitude, the passage of time may ultimately change everyone’s perspective.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Brown, Steelers, Chargers

It’s been more than a full day since the report that a deal was “close” to being done for Antonio Brown, but the Steelers haven’t moved yet. We still don’t have any word yet on where he’s heading, and it’s become clear that part of the holdup with trade negotiations is the fact that Brown wants a pricey new contract wherever he goes. After Odell Beckham Jr. signed his record-breaking deal last year, Brown “took note of the new money hitting the receiver market” and wanted to get in on it, writes Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

While Brown has apparently been plotting on how to get a new contract for a while, Fowler does caution that the “notion that Brown sought a trade and publicly criticized his team solely over a new deal is misguided.” In his article, which is worth a full read, Fowler breaks down how Brown is “working the system” to get a huge new deal while he still has three years left on his current one with the Steelers.

Here’s more from around the AFC with the start of free agency right around the corner:

  • Speaking of Brown’s contract, we have more clarity on what exactly he’s seeking. Yesterday we heard he was looking to become the highest paid receiver in the NFL, and now we have more on his demands. Brown wants between $18 and $20MM per year on any new deal, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports hears (Twitter link). That explains why things have been taking so long. Beckham got $18MM per year on his deal, and Brown will have a hard time getting more than that. Beckham was 25 when he signed his deal, and Brown is 30. If any team is going to pay him quarterback money, they’re not going to want to give the Steelers any compensation for the right to do it. If that’s really what Brown is holding out for, it might be a while before this is resolved.
  • Denzel Perryman and the Chargers agreed on a new two-year deal yesterday, and now we have the details. The inside linebacker will earn $12MM over the course of the two years, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Perryman, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent, has been a good run-stuffer for the Chargers when he’s been able to stay healthy. The 2015 second round pick out of Miami has missed 16 games over the past two years. If he can stay on the field next year, it’ll be a huge boost to Los Angeles’ talented defense.
  • In case you missed it, tight end Martellus Bennett could come out of retirement to join his brother with the Patriots.