Posted on September 8, 2019, by Travis Pulver
For most of his career, wide receiver Antonio Brown has been one of the most productive offensive weapons in the game. But as part of the Raiders, the expectations were not nearly as high as they have been in years past. Few believed that he would flourish in Oakland.
But in Foxborough as a member of the New England Patriots catching passes from Tom Brady? Now that is a different story.
The news of Brown’s release from the Raiders Saturday didn’t really come as much of a surprise. However, it was probably more of a surprise that the confrontation he had with Raiders GM Mike Mayock wasn’t the final straw—but it wasn’t.
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For a moment, it even looked like the team was enabling him when they talked about suspending him for Monday night’s season opener. Then winning was deemed more important than discipline; their chances of beating Denver would have been better with him playing.
They opted not to suspend him and just levied a fine of $215,073.53 instead—which Brown could have easily afforded and didn’t seem to have an issue with. But he did take issue with the fine voiding his guarantees and termination pay making it easy for the Raiders to cut him loose at any given moment.
He proclaimed he wasn’t going to play without any guarantees and asked to be released— which the Raiders did.
Speculation ran rampant online about where he would end up; there was little doubt that he would not be picked up by someone. While his behavior has been childish and annoying, that is something teams will overlook if a player is still productive.
Last season, he was still one of the most productive in the game. With the right coach and in the right environment, Brown can still be a 100+ reception, 1000+ yards kind of guy—but it would have to be the right coach and the right environment.
So, of course, it was the Patriots that signed him hours after he was released. New England signed Brown to a one-year deal worth up to $15 million with $9 million guaranteed and $5 million in incentives.
It would have been something if he could have played Sunday night against the Steelers, but he will not be eligible to play until Week Two. Of course, how much he plays will likely depend on how quickly he can learn the offense and whether he does anything that angers Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Assuming he does play in Week Two, even if he just plays a little, as part of the Patriots offense, he becomes a good bet to lead the league in receiving yards. DraftKings has him listed at +800, the second shortest odds in the league.
However, there is a good chance that he may not see the ball enough.
Last season, Tom Brady targeted a receiver not named Julian Edelman 193 times; 68 of those went to Josh Gordon in the 11 games that he was active in. Subtract Gordon’s targets, but then factor in Rob Gronkowski’s and you have about 200 targets to be dispersed elsewhere.
Edelman is bound to see a few more as will Gordon and maybe even James White (who led the team with 23 targets). So, there is a chance Brown may only see about 100 targets—maybe less depending on how many reps Demaryius Thomas gets and rookie N’Keal Harry when he becomes healthy.
As a result, Brown could actually get lost in the shuffle—but that is not likely. What is likely, is that he will be used lightly for the first 4-6 games as he develops trust with the team. At that point, Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas, and Tyreek Hill will have too much of a lead.
Is there value at +800? Absolutely, but if you are looking for value, you might as well go with Hopkins (+800), Hill (+1200), or Thomas (+1400)