There I was, ready to lambast the Raiders for the bounty they’d give up for Antonio Brown … but alas!
It was not fury nor keyboard mayhem that ensued. More like I gawked with mouth agape trying to fully comprehend what happened.
Is this real? Is this some kind of joke?
I was truly flummoxed by how little Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock had to give the Pittsburgh Steelers for arguably the best wide receiver in the game today — a third- and fifth-round draft picks.
What was thought to have been at least a top 50 pick (Oakland’s 2nd round pick (No. 35) being the most ballyhooed) to even get a sniff of interest from Pittsburgh wasn’t even remotely true. In came neophyte GM Mayock to drop the Steel Curtain and nab a true No. 1 wide receiver for quarterback Derek Carr.
“Mayock is a talented general manager and a tough negotiator,” super-agent and Antonio Brown advocate Drew Rosenhaus said on NFL Network this past Sunday. “Any chance you could take him back? He’s a hard guy to strike a bargain with. …
“He did a good job. You would’ve thought he was a veteran NFL general manager. He was very sharp and very professional. He actually worked on Antonio’s deal with me.”
I’d be remiss not to mention that could all be bliss talking. After all, the Raiders did hand Rosenhaus’ client a reported $30-plus million in guaranteed money and the contract is worth more than $50 million.
“It was a win-win,” Rosenhaus said. “Jon Gruden was a big part of this, as was Derek Carr. 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 to help you execute.
“We’re thankful Antonio got a new contract. We’re thankful Antonio is with the Raiders, one of the marquee franchises in the NFL, and we’re very excited that he has a terrific coach and a terrific quarterback.”
Here’s the win-win: IF the AB deal is indicative of Mayocks’ skills as a negotiator and talent acquisition — and if it shows he can talk sense into Gruden — he’s a damn sound hire for the Raiders.
Unquestionably there is a mountain of work to be completed before the Raiders can return to prominence, but on the weekend before the free agency fray, Mayock and Gruden — the TV Twins — proved it doesn’t take an act of lunacy to get the ship righted. Just look beyond the Brown acquisition: Trading once-dominant guard Kelechi Osemele to the New York Jets and re-upping nose tackle Jonathan Hankins to a two-year deal.
The Raiders have long been seeking to move KO and were rescinded to the fact they’d have to outright release him. Instead, they sent the mauling guard East along with a sixth-round pick and got a fifth-rounder in return. Better to get something instead of nothing.
Hankins, who sat on the free agency street for quite some time before landing in Oakland and playing well, returns to provide nose tackle rotation between he and Justin “Jelly” Ellis. Those two quiet moves paired with the trumpets blaring addition of AB got the Raiders off to a boombastic start.
Let’s see if the same level-headedness continues heading into legal tampering period and the official start of free agency Wednesday, 1 p.m. (EST).