The big NFL news ahead of free agency is that, pending official paperwork being filed at the start of the new year, Antonio Brown is a member of the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders sent a third- and fifth-round pick to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for Brown, who also got more than $11 million on top of his current contract, including $30.125 million fully guaranteed.
But is this really a great deal for Oakland? Not really.
The big picture: As incredibly talented as Brown is, he comes with a ton of baggage and is walking into a situation that could begin to rub him the wrong way quickly. And based on his history (more on that shortly) that could become a big problem for the Raiders.
Investing poorly: The Raiders have shown an incredible capacity to make exactly the wrong moves in the personnel department since Jon Gruden took over last spring. And the questionable moves started even before that, beginning with Derek Carr’s contract.
- Derek Carr landed a then-record contract extension in 2017. He’s been an average quarterback so far in his career and struggled mightily last season.
- Taking offensive tackle Kolton Miller out of UCLA with the No. 15 overall pick last year was a disaster. Turning him into the starting left tackle compounded that mistake.
- Trading Khalil Mack still seems like an ill-conceived decision. Sure, Oakland landed a couple of draft picks. But Mack is an All-Pro at one of the most important positions in modern football.
- Trading Amari Cooper was also a questionable decision (at best). He’s still just 24 years of age and clearly has the game to become a No. 1 receiver in this league (53 catches for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games with Dallas last year).
Oakland isn’t good: Due to these poor personnel decisions, the Raiders were among the league’s worst teams last year and will struggle in a loaded AFC West next season, too.
- Raiders featured the 23rd-ranked total offense in 2018.
- With 18.1 points per game, Oakland was the 28th-ranked team in the league.
- Giving up 6,102 yards, the Raiders featured the 26th-ranked defense in the NFL.
- Allowing 29.2 points per game, Oakland’s defense was the worst scoring defense in the league.
Derek Carr might not be, either: Despite a career-best 68.9 percent completion rate last year, Carr’s ability to become a legitimate franchise passer is questionable.
- There is ample evidence that Carr has regressed as a confident, accurate passer in recent years. His 36 interceptable passes in 2017 ranked 35th in the league (via Cian Fahey).
- Carr is one of three NFL quarterbacks to have started at least 50 games and averaged less than 6.8 yards per attempt (6.7 yards per attempt since 2014).
- This dink-and-dunk approach doesn’t mesh well with Brown’s game, which could lead to problems.
These issues, along with what we’re about to discuss, could lead to a swift source of contention between Carr and Brown.
Brown’s diva attitude: Brown has a long history of making everything about him. He also has a long history of being a big problem inside Pittsburgh’s locker room, both as it relates to his broken relationship with Ben Roethlisberger and his own personal issues.
The bottom line: On the surface, landing Brown for a couple of mid-round picks seems ideal. He’s one of the best receivers in football and has been on a legendary stretch the past six years.
Yet trouble could soon follow this trade. Given the fact that Oakland almost certainly will be a mediocre team (at best) this coming year, things could quickly spiral out of control.
Oakland would have been better served avoiding a potential locker-room cancer and continuing to build through the draft. Especially considering Jon Gruden didn’t handle a diva receiver (Keyshawn Johnson) well in Tampa Bay previously.