Five reasons the Raiders made the right move in their reported trade for Antonio Brown:
1) Derek Carr needed a go-to receiver he could trust
For whatever reason, things went south went Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. Crabtree, in his final season, wasn’t even on the field, and Cooper sagged statistically in his final two seasons. If that happens with Brown, it’s a disaster. Yet there’s no reason to think it should. Brown will be extremely motivated in Year 1 for sure. And even when his behavior seemed erratic with Pittsburgh, Brown never stopped producing. It’s all about making the quarterback better. And Carr will be the Raiders quarterback.
2) The Raiders held firm to their build-for-the future mode
Hard to believe, but the Raiders still have four of the top 35 picks in this year’s NFL draft. That was the sticking point earlier, when the Raiders thought they were out of the Brown sweepstakes. The held firm after the Buffalo deal fell through, and can still add young, talented players to their roster. The Raiders under general manager Mike Mayock and Gruden were willing to walk away if they felt it compromised their roster. And they did — once. They got a second chance and made the most of it.
3) Chances are good Brown will love playing for Jon Gruden
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Not exactly sure what happened with Amari Cooper, but Gruden has usually been good at coaxing the best out of wideouts. He got a very good year out of an end-of-the-line Andre Rison in 2000. When Jerry Rice came in 2001, he had been difficult to deal with as the 49ers transitioned to Terrell Owens as the No. 1 option. Gruden was in his ear every day, telling him he was great while at the same time pushing him. There’s every chance Brown will respond well to Gruden’s style. Whatever problems Brown had in Pittsburgh, none of them had to do with how hard he works. And that’s what matters most to Gruden.
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4) The money was reasonable for a potential Hall of Fame receiver
Yes, the Raiders wouldn’t part with $90 million guaranteed for Khalil Mack, and traded him as a result. But this is an offensive player in an offensive league, and if the reported figure of $30 million guaranteed over three years is correct, it’s beyond reasonable. It’s a bargain. As much as NFL teams hate to guarantee money, players who perform at a high level deserve it. This will be one of those cases.
5) It allows the Raiders to focus elsewhere in the draft and free agency
The attention Brown draws will only help Jordy Nelson, the No. 2 receiver, who perfectly fills the cagey-veteran, possession receiver role. It will also open up things for every other receiver on the roster. And Brown is a special talent who will get his numbers anyway. So when free agency and the draft comes around, the Raiders can look for receivers who can compete for complementary roles and concentrate instead on defense and other areas of need rather than gamble on a receiving group that’s weak in free agency and a roll of the dice in the draft.
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