A mere 48 hours away from their 2019-20 NFL season opener against the Denver Broncos, the Oakland Raiders finally reached their tipping point and officially released star wide receiver Antonio Brown on Saturday.
The bombshell was dropped just one day after Brown had seemingly patched things up with Raiders general manager Mike Mayock following a near altercation over the 31-year-old being fined for missing a practice walkthrough.
Brown issued an emotional apology in front of his teammates, leading head coach Jon Gruden to make him available for Monday’s game against the Broncos.
But a series of social media posts by Brown ensued, including one in which he demanded his release from the Raiders on Instagram. The seven-time Pro Bowler’s wish was ultimately granted, and he is now eligible to sign with any of the other 31 teams as a free agent.
Brown’s departure is a major blow to the Oakland offense, which was expected to take a leap forward this season. It’s also a particularly tough pill to swallow for Derek Carr, who reportedly had practiced with Brown on many occasions during the offseason and was looking forward to playing with him according to his borther David, via Patrick Claybon of NFL Network:
Moments ago @DCarr8 told @MikeSilver and me that Derek Carr worked with AB this offseason more than he has with *any* WR in his career. He’s glad the ordeal is over….but was truly looking forward to playing with him.
— Patrick Claybon (@PatrickClaybon) September 7, 2019
After a tumultuous ending to his nine-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Raiders acquired Brown on March 13 for a pair of mid-round 2019 draft picks in what many initially deemed was a lopsided trade.
Brown was expected to be a vital piece of the Raiders offense this season, giving the team a true No. 1 wide receiver to complement Carr and other key players.
By voiding the guarantees in his contract, the Raiders were able to release Brown without any financial implications. They saved roughly $30 million by parting ways with him, with no dead money that will count against their cap space.
With Brown no longer in the mix, Tyrell Williams moves up to the top of the Raiders’ depth chart for wide receivers. Free agent signings J.J. Nelson and Ryan Grant are also expected to receive a steady dose of targets, while the team remains high on 2019 fifth-round selection Hunter Renfrow.