CBS NEWS – Were you expecting the Antonio Brown saga to end peacefully after Jon Gruden praised him on Friday and said the team was excited to have him back? Congratulations, you played yourself.
After a week that involved several twists and turns, the Raiders granted Antonio Brown’s request and released the receiver on Saturday.
Following his release, Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus told Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, “Now that Antonio is a free agent, we are focused on the future and I will immediately work on signing him to a new team. Antonio is looking forward to a new beginning.”
Brown isn’t subject to waivers and will be a free agent, able to sign with any other team that will have him as early as 4:01 p.m. EST Saturday. He cannot, however, suit up in Week 1. The earliest we could see AB back on the field and in a new uniform is Week 2.
The rest of the Raiders and the Broncos will be suiting up for Week 1 and as you’d expect following Brown’s release, the markets reacted quickly, with the Broncos again moving to 2.5-point favorites in most spots.
It seemed painfully obvious that Brown was going to be released by the Raiders — or at least suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, with Oakland potentially voiding the guaranteed money in his contract — as late as noon on Friday. Then Brown apologized to his teammates, Gruden said he was back in and playing Monday and shortly thereafter Brown released a video that appeared to feature a recording of Gruden talking him in to coming back in a phone call.
Ignoring the wiretapping laws of California, it was just a weird thing to do late on a Friday after the team washed him of his sins and brought him back into the fold. Even weirder? Brown wrote “release me” on Instagram Saturday, apparently because the Raiders decided to fine him again.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports the Raiders took away the guaranteed money in Brown’s deal and fined him more than $200,000 on Friday. Brown reacted about as well as you would expect, asking the Raiders for his release on Instagram on Saturday morning.
Brown essentially confirmed as much to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, writing in an email that the Raiders fined him, took away his guarantees and essentially made him a week-to-week employee.
The Raiders have, per NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, sent multiple letters to Brown, with one informing him he has been fined more than $200,000 and the other informing him that if he is released he will not be eligible for termination pay.
Those letters set AB off, obviously, and caused him to demand his release on social media. And the Raiders granted that request on Saturday morning, ending Brown’s time in Oakland before he ever played a snap, spelling the end to a short and absolutely bonkers tenure with the Raiders.
After driving his way out of Pittsburgh, Oakland acquired his services for 2019 third and fifth round picks. He then negotiated a new deal that was set to pay him $50.13 million over the next three years with $30.13 million guaranteed. Of course, that money will never see Brown’s pocket.
Trouble first started to come about with Brown and the Raiders when he was unhappy the league was forcing him to swap out his obsolete and unsafe helmet with a newer, safer one. After some hemming and some hawing and a couple of grievances filed in-between, the helmet situation appeared to be behind them.
Oh yeah, did we mention that he was also dealing with frostbite on his feet after a mishap in a cryotherapy machine? It’s incredible that this story is so far down the depth chart at this point, but here we are.
Along with the fine and voiding of his guarantees, the straw began to break the camel’s back between Brown and the Raiders with an altercation between the receiver and general manager Mike Mayock. Brown was upset about the fines, allegedly threw cuss words at Mayock’s way and then punted a football. He away from the team for a day in an attempt to cool things down, but that was clearly just a Band-Aid on a major gash.
Despite head coach Jon Gruden declaring that things were back on balance with Brown and that he was going to play on Monday, clearly things have gone haywire. Now, we will never see him suit up for the Raiders at any point.