One of the crazier sagas in modern NFL history concluded Saturday. The Raiders released Antonio Brown after voiding his guarantees, setting themselves up for another potential decision on Brown requiring an arbitrator. Jon Gruden addressed the decision, which came a day after he said Brown would play in Week 1 against the Broncos.
“We just have exhausted everything,” Gruden said. “We tried every way possible to make it work. And all I’m gonna say is it’s disappointing. We did everything we could to make this work. I’m sorry it didn’t. I apologize, but I’ll tell you, I’m very proud of what we did as an organization to try. I wish Antonio the best. I’m sorry we never got a chance to see him in silver and black. … I just don’t think it worked. It didn’t fit here.”
Here is the latest from this round of AB fallout:
- Brown did not completely morph into the polarizing figure he now is until Week 17 of last season, a sequence that began his Pittsburgh exit. A 2012 date sticks with some Steelers figures, however. A day after Brown received the first of his two Steelers extensions (July 28, 2012), he engaged in a heated exchange with Steelers defenders and then-DC Dick LeBeau at a training camp practice, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com notes. Another component in the Brown saga, per Robinson: Steelers owner Dan Rooney‘s death. The late owner was a Brown supporter, and Robinson adds Brown “took it hard” when the organization prioritized Ben Roethlisberger over him. This is a bit strange because the Steelers did not give Big Ben his latest extension until Brown forced his way out, though the team did back Roethlisberger after Brown’s Week 17 became an amazing run of drama.
- Drew Rosenhaus mentioned this Brown saga indeed could become a legal situation, regarding the released wideout’s $29MM-plus in guarantees, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). “We’ll do what’s best for Antonio. We will speak with the NFLPA,” Rosenhaus said, via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). While the Raiders no longer employ Brown, their part in this process does not look to be over. If Brown were to win a grievance, the Raiders could be tagged with $29.125MM in dead money, ex-GM Mike Tannenbaum tweets. The Steelers are already eating $21.12MM in 2019 dead cap charges.
- Interestingly, the Raiders tried to bring Doss back after releasing Brown. But the Jaguars moved to give the rookie UDFA a full veteran-minimum salary to keep him, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (video link). Doss will become by far Jacksonville’s highest-paid practice squad player, making an active-roster minimum of $495K. The practice squad minimum is $8K per week.
- Any team that signs Brown will guarantee 25% of his 2019 salary, per OverTheCap’s Jason Fitzgerald (on Twitter), because of termination pay rules. However, if one of the other three teams playing on Monday night — the Texans, Saints or Broncos — sign Brown before their respective games (extremely unlikely), Brown’s salary would be fully guaranteed.
- Count the Saints out, however, with Sean Payton quickly indicating (via NOLA.com’s Herbie Teope, on Twitter) his team will not pursue the volatile All-Pro. This figures to be a theme, but there will certainly be teams that investigate this situation for a possible free agent signing.