- The Oakland Raiders landed Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a third-round pick and fifth-round pick.
- The Raiders have been applauded for landing the star wide receiver without giving up any of their three first-round picks.
- With cap space, plus four picks in the top 35, the Raiders are in position to acquire more talent and make a quick turn-around after a disastrous 4-12 season in 2018.
The Antonio Brown trade saga is over.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders agreed to a trade to send the 30-year-old wide receiver to the Raiders in exchange for a third-round and fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft. The deal can become official on 4 P.M. ET on Wednesday, when the new league year begins.
The deal looks like a bargain for the Raiders. The price for Brown was reported to be a first-round pick, and perhaps more if there were several suitors. The Raiders were considered suitors for Brown, in part, because they have three first-round picks this year.
However, Brown’s public trade demands, contract demands, and overall behavior, including reportedly shooting down a potential trade to the Buffalo Bills, seemed to scare off teams. Reports indicated that the pool of suitors was growing smaller as time went on. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that by the time the deal was done, there was one team left in the pool — the Raiders.
Upon landing Brown, the Steelers gave him a new deal, reportedly worth $54 million over three years, with $30 million guaranteed. Brown did not have any guaranteed money left on his previous contract, so the new scenery also comes with a big raise.
In landing Brown, the Raiders have positioned themselves nicely for a big offseason. They kept all of three of their first-round picks, they have an early second-round pick (No. 35 overall), and still have cap space to work with.
The Raiders didn’t do well on either end of the field last season, so there are a lot of holes to fill. But Brown represents an automatic upgrade on offense, regardless of who is throwing him the ball.
There is speculation that the Raiders could go after Le’Veon Bell next in free agency. Reuniting Bell and Brown would help the Raiders move the ball, and it would give them a dynamic offensive duo to market when they move to Las Vegas in 2020.
Then there’s the draft. With four picks in the top 35, the Raiders stand to add some much-needed talent, wherever they see fit.
Michael Conroy/APCould the Raiders target a quarterback like Kyler Murray with one of the picks? Derek Carr has a cap hit of $22 million, $21 million, and $22 million over the next three seasons, but after 2019, his dead cash is just $5 million, a reasonable number if the Raiders wanted to draft a quarterback to play behind Carr, then hand over thei reins in 2020.
The Raiders could look to improve in any number of areas — drafting a top pass-rusher to try and replace Khalil Mack, fortifying the offensive line, improving a secondary that ranked 32nd in pass defense last year.
They could make further trades, swinging one of those first-round picks for more veteran, ready-to-win talent. Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford is reportedly on the trade market — might the Raiders dangle a first-rounder for him?
Even with significant assets in cap space and draft picks, it will be hard for the Raiders to make too big of a turn-around in one offseason. Much of their improvement will be based on the play of Carr next season (assuming he’s the quarterback).
But new GM Mike Mayock did well to land a top-five receiver without giving up a first-round pick, and the team has plenty of other avenues to improve the roster and ensure they don’t go 4-12 again.
- 8 teams that make the most sense in an Antonio Brown blockbuster trade, ranked
- The Antonio Brown trade saga is reaching a boiling point, and both sides are running out of options
- 2019 NFL DRAFT: What every team needs heading into the first round