If we’re passing out grades, Antonio Brown and the Raiders won big in the trade that sent the future Hall of Famer from Pittsburgh to Oakland. Nothing’s official until the league year begins on Wednesday — and anything can happen between now and then — but as it stands, it only cost the Raiders a third- and fifth-round pick for one of the NFL‘s best players.
And Brown also got a new deal out of it, increasing his earning from from $38.9 million to $50.1 million through 2021, including $30 million in guarantees, according to Pro Football Talk.
On Sunday, Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus spoke with NFL Network about all that transpired in recent days.
“The trade talks have been ongoing for quite some time now,” Rosenhaus told Andrew Siciliano. “Things really heated up with the Raiders about 48 hours ago. The Steelers gave the Raiders permission to speak with us. Apparently, the Steelers and the Raiders reached an agreement on compensation and as everyone knows, since Antonio was going to be traded we were looking to adjust his contract.”
So would Brown have been willing to accept a trade without a new contract?
“Well, rather than deal with hypotheticals, let me just say, it worked out great,” Rosenhaus continued. “It was a win-win. You’re right — Jon Gruden was a big part of this. Certainly, Antonio is a great receiver, one of the best of all time, but it’s hard to reach your potential if you don’t have an offensive coach or a quarterback that can help you execute. So we’re thankful that Antonio got a new contract. We’re thankful that he’s with Raider Nation, one of the marquee franchises in the NFL, and we’re very excited that he’s got a terrific coach and a terrific quarterback. Those things are very important.
“You know, when you play for so many years with Ben Roethlisberger, I think it’s important that you continue to have outstanding quarterback play.
Why didn’t things work out in Pittsburgh?
“You know, Antonio had nine great years,” Rosenhaus began, “and that’s probably longer than 99 percent of the guys in the league. It was a terrific love affair between Antonio and the Steelers. We worked on two contract extensions, he was a sixth-round pick, he had unprecedented success. But really, at the end the of the year, things fell apart. Antonio felt it would be in his best interest. We talked about it — to get a fresh start — that’s really all that was. …
“We’re thankful the Steelers were able to get compensation for him; everybody wins here.”
Rosenhaus was uncertain if Brown and Ben Roethlisberger had spoken since Week 17, when the wideout wasn’t active in a must-win game against the Bengals after he went missing in the days before kickoff. He also wouldn’t comment on whether he negotiated with teams other than the Raiders but did add that “there were other interested clubs.”
Rosenhaus continued: “I’m not sure people realize just how many teams were interested in Antonio but it was a very unique situation. This is the first time I can remember a player with three years left on his contract got guaranteed money added to his deal and got a raise without adding anything — without adding any years. Not every team in the league would do that. … I don’t know that any [team] has. So credit to Jon Gruden, Mike Mayock, the owner Mark Davis. This was a very bold move by the Oakland Raiders and we’re excited it worked out that way.”
Finally, what happened to the Bills, whom NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Thursday night were set to trade for Brown?
“I’m not sure,” Rosenhaus told Siciliano. “[Bills GM] Brandon Beane came out with a very eloquent statement and they said they looked into it with the Steelers and they decided to not pursue the trade and we respect that. It just didn’t work and and we moved on, started talking to the Raiders and Antonio is happy to be in Oakland. We wish the Bills the best.”
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported Brown had no interest in going to Buffalo.
When asked point blank if Brown didn’t want to go to the Bills, Rosenhaus said, “I don’t know if that was ever an option for us, quite frankly. We never got in that position and it really wasn’t something that it was up for us to decide. I don’t the Steelers and the Bills were able to work something out.”