*I wrote this long piece of speculation, and then ‘boom’ AB becomes a Patriot as I’m about to publish it. Now, let me add that part to it…
Here’s my original thoughts on AB’s future and the Oakland impact…followed by the Patriots’ impact, now.
Well, that didn’t go very well for Oakland…
Jon Gruden’s really an ace General Manager. Here’s a list of his trades since taking over the Raiders (in order, and if it was a pick I’ll put the player’s picked names)…
MAR 2018: Traded away Cordarrelle Patterson and a pick that would be Braxton Berrios FOR a 2018 5th-round pick that was later dealt in a trade.
MAR 2018: Traded away a 2018 6th-round pick/Jamize Olawale FOR 5th-round pick which was Punter Johnny Townsend…who they cut a year later.
APR 2018: Traded away a 2018 3rd-round pick to acquire Martavis Bryant… Would Gruden like another chance at troubled Steelers’ WRs?
APR 2018: Traded Jihad Ward FOR Ryan Switzer…and would deal Switzer in a few weeks.
MAY 2018: Traded a 7th-round pick FOR Christian Hackenberg
AUG 2018: Traded Ryan Switzer and 6th-round pick (would be Sutton Smith) FOR 5th-round pick in 2019 (that they would later trade)
SEP 2018: Traded Khalil Mack and a 2020 2nd and 5th-round pick FOR a 2019 1st-round pick (Josh Jacobs), a 2019 6th-round pick (later traded) and a 2020 1st and 3rd-round picks)
SEP 2018: Traded Buffalo a 5th-round pick FOR A.J. McCarron (no longer on the team)
SEP 2018: Traded a 2019 7th-round pick FOR LB Shalom Luani (no longer on the team)
OCT 2018: Traded Amari Cooper FOR a 2019 1st-round pick (Jonathan Abrams)
MAR 2019: Traded aa 2019 3rd-round pick (Diontae Johnson), 5th-round pick (TE Zach Gentry) for Antonio Brown…and then gave Brown a huge contract extension.
…and then cut Brown after an utterly embarrassing summer with him.
MAR 2019: Traded Kelechi Osemele and 6th-round pick FOR a 5th-round pick (that they traded)
MAY 2019: Traded PK Eddy Pineiro FOR a 2021 7th-round pick
Antonio Brown was released for conduct detrimental to the organization.
Shouldn’t Jon Gruden have the same fate, today? His trading track record is the most embarrassing in the league.
The highlight names moved and the ones still working for Oakland look like a collective:
Khalil Mack, Amari Cooper, Diontae Johnson, and Kelechi Osemele FOR Josh Jacobs and Jonathan Abrams, a 2020 1st-round pick (CHI)
You didn’t click on this article to find out about how Jon Gruden is awful at his job…you already knew that. You want to know about Antonio Brown and the fantasy pinball action from his release. OK, first reaction, here goes (in three parts)…
1) Where will Antonio Brown wind up?
50% (out of 100%) = He will not play football again. Who is going to sign him…and why would he sign?
He’s been so over-the-top, so bizarre, so inexplicable…what contender would want to invite all those issues in? It’s not one strike…it’s like 17 strikes. Also, the NFL collective will not want to reward this behavior. The NFL can put up with a lot of things, but Antonio Brown has been so over-the-top…
Now, you’re thinking some team will SURELY give him a chance…sure, some team might have an inclination, but it will be like only on a team-friendly/anti-nutty player behavior contract. In other words, no guarantees…and Antonio Brown just left, in part, after his guarantees were taken away. A team signing him would need the ability to cut him immediately with no pain…and I don’t think Brown is down with that.
So, let’s say some team offers him a one-year deal for like $8M, approx. $500K per game…no paycheck guaranteed past the current pay week. Why would Brown want to force himself out of a massive guaranteed payday in Oakland just to take a lesser deal somewhere else? Do you think AB really cares about ‘winning’ or ‘team’? He’s made enough money from the NFL; he can walk away now (he sure acts like it). If he needed the money, he would have stayed quiet in Oakland and cashed checks. He’s made $70M over his time in the NFL (just football pay). If he has $20M+ of that left, he likely thinks he’s fine.
50% = Maybe he signs next week, but potentially he waits until later in the season (and some of this blows over) and joins a team in desperate need for the late season stretch.
Of that 20% he does play again:
20% = New England…because of course it would be the Patriots. Could you imagine that announcement?
15% = Cleveland, if OBJ isn’t right…and they’ve shown the gumption to take chances on players like this.
9% = Tampa Bay…his old O-C (and recent critic), Bruce Arians…who loves reclamation projects.
5% = Dallas…right up Jerry’s alley.
1% = Other?
My main guess at this would be…Brown just goes away. My second guess would be he takes months/a season away and goes to ‘anger management’ or ‘mental health clinic’ (top dollar one) to work out his issues (all done for show) – then tries to comeback as the ‘cured’ Antonio Brown for 2020…if he really wants to play football again, which I don’t think he does.
2) Who benefits most for Oakland from Brown gone?
Everyone is going to default to Tyrell Williams, and that’s true…but Tyrell is more of a nice #2 WR, not a true #1. He’s going to have to become one fast. He’ll make up in targets what he might lack in #1 skills. He’ll get shutdown vs. Denver this week, most likely…and that send his value dropping – but that would be an opportunity to buy low.
Week 1/DEN, Week 3/MIN (Rhodes), Week 5/CHI, Week 6 BYE, Week 7/GB (Jaire), Week 9/DET (Slay).
Tyrell is in trouble in six of his first 9 fantasy games…and, remember, he’s working with Derek Carr/the Raiders – not good/fantasy fertile.
Darren Waller will likely see a few more touches and that’s good for him, but having AB take so much attention was going to be a big boost I was counting on as well. I think the volume locks Waller in as a top 5-6 TE, as I have been projecting for a while now.
I would not try to find FF-gold in Nelson-Renfrow-Grant-Harris. Yes, those are the remaining Raiders’ WRs after Tyrell…which does mean Tyrell is getting a huge share of the targets ahead.
Josh Jacobs is in trouble as this passing game is less something to worry about, and the run game can be focused upon.
Which leads to another problem…
3) When Oakland’s season tanks immediately…
The next big deal that master GM Gruden will pull off is trading Derek Carr…and Carr is very cut-able in 2020. And Gruden has never liked him. If a team pops up with a desperate need mid-season…Carr could yield quite a nice trade value.
How valuable will Tyrell (and Waller) be if Nathan Peterman or DeShone Kizer is at QB?
I’m the original Tyrell Williams fan back to his UDFA days with the Chargers, when they cut him his rookie season (and then re-signed him when no one picked him up). One of my top graded WRs from his draft season. He should be WR2 now on volume, but it’s such a mess here…I’d love to see a WR1 upside, but the surroundings (Gruden, Carr, Schedule, QB change) may drag him to too many WR3 or worse outputs. Have hope, but be afraid…like with every fantasy player, I guess.
That was all written before the AB signing with New England.
OK, now the Patriots’ impact…
The Patriots being where AB landed was my very first thought when asked today (after ‘he’s done’)…just as an ‘of course’ that would happen thought. But I really thought Brown would be hands-off for a while. I guess not.
My first reactions on AB with the Patriots…
1) This feels like the final ride of Tom Brady, so ‘why not’? It’s the Randy Moss effect all over again.
We’re just handing the Patriots titles. Why even hold an NFL Draft or free agency anymore…or play a season?
2) Josh Gordon stock way down again. I’ve always wanted any of you to avoid him or if you had acquired him to trade every offseason…and it’s always been right to do. He’s cursed. He’s a nice #3 here (Edel then AB then Gordon). Smart of the Pats to minimize their need for him relying on Gordon.
Phillip Dorsett Very Deep Sleeper…goes to sleep.
Demaryius Thomas is still here. He could be their #4 this season!! Or cut.
N’Keal Harry will be ready for impact in a few years…just as Brady is leaving. He’s going to get forgotten by fantasy/dynasty players. He’ll be acquirable cheap the next few months.
3) How much do you wish Brown could play this week for New England against Pittsburgh?
4) I don’t know if Brown will last the season in New England, but if he’s going to zip it and play…it’s with Belichick. He has to be seen as a WR1 threat here, but #1 WRs going to new teams with new QBs/offenses aren’t as ‘instant’ as you’d think. Could be some stumbling around for a bit…and so many other options on this team. But you have to like AB here more than with Derek Carr.
5) Sony Michel might rush for 20 TDs from within 5 yards in this offense this season...if Damien Harris doesn’t move into a split/take the job too fast.
6) Tom Brady goes back into the QB1 discussion, back-end QB1. But if he and AB click, with all his other options…this could be a stunning display of offense.
Imagine if Brady gets hurt and Jarrett Stidham takes over…how valuable is Stidham as a handcuff?
7) How great is the NFL? Never a dull moment. You think it’s boring because of the Patriots roster/history, but this will be fun rooting for 31 teams to take down Duke basketball/the Yankees…or whatever ‘most hated’ dominant team you can think of.
The NFL, any sport, is best when there is a villain. It was already the Patriots…now, even more so.