How the Antonio Brown trade refocused the Raiders long term future

Everyone knew that the Oakland Raiders would be active in free agency, but the most important move in Jon Gruden’s second at-bat was yet another trade.

This acquisition should have returns in the same calendar year, which is probably a big enough upgrade alone. However, the Antonio Brown trade was just the harbinger of decisions to come as the Raiders swapped locker room voice Donald Penn for new comer Trent Brown and a bevy of receivers in a bid to remake the offense. After the disaster that was last season, Gruden has no interest in simply waiting on Las Vegas which may be yet another paradigm shift for the mercurial coach trying to breath life into the franchise.

The Raider offense fell off a cliff soon after the Cooper trade as the aging Jordy Nelson, the troubled Martavis Bryant and the simply not good enough Seth Roberts all attempted to pick up the slack. Antonio Brown almost accumulated more yards (1,297 to 1,499) and three times as many touchdowns (15 to 5) as the combined efforts three leading receivers last season. Now two of those receivers, and Pro Bowler Jared Cook, are no longer with the team and focus has shifted to Brown. Prior to this trade the focus was on if quarterback Derek Carr was going to be able to will the offense into a better place after producing the 23

Prior to this trade the focus was on if quarterback Derek Carr was going to be able to will the offense into a better place after producing the 23rd ranked offense. Now, with a future Hall-Of-Famer on board, the focus is on whether or not no. 4 is even good enough to share the field with him. That is not exactly an indictment on Carr who has shown that he can win games and elevate players, but he’s never faced the level of pressure he currently has.

Carr, for his part, will be playing with probably the most athletic and definitely the most accomplished group of receivers thus far. Even with less he has done more, and his ten game no-interception streak was no fluke as he learned to survive a chaotic pocket and was sacked 51 times. More than his previous two seasons combined. To that end, the Raiders have signed the “other” Brown and moved on from both Penn and former All-Pro Kelechi Osemele, a move that was truly the end of the 2016 flash in the pan. Now that the line has been re-tooled, and the receiver corps upgraded with Tyrell Williams, Brown, and whomever they may draft, Carr has no where to hide. If he can rise to the occasion and produce moments like his 2016 run, the kind the gets his name back into MVP discussions and fill the coliseum, he can fight off rumors that he’ll be replaced if Jon Gruden gives him a chance this April.

Now that the line has been re-tooled, and the receiver corps upgraded with Tyrell Williams, Brown, and whomever they may draft, Carr has no where to hide. If he can rise to the occasion and produce moments like his 2016 run, the kind the gets his name back into MVP discussions and fill the coliseum, he can fight off rumors that he’ll be replaced if Jon Gruden gives him a chance this April.

All of these “upgrades” may not be meant for Carr, or anyone currently in the NFL at the moment. If Gruden, and Mike Mayock, decide they can either make a deal thats worth it or land their dream signal caller then Carr may never get the chance. This seems unlikely as AB and DC seem to have hit it off in a way that he and Cooper never could, but with Gruden you never really know. It could be Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Locke, or any late round pick, one thing that is almost a given is Gruden will be looking for a quarterback even if he is just a career back up. That would be a new kind of pressure for Carr and the offense at-large because the moment he has a game like the 2018 season opener (300 yards, 0tds, 3ints) all eyes will be on him. If the pick is clearly a developmental player then Carr may yet still have time but no matter what he will have to generate the stat that is unfairly attributed to QB’s, wins.

That would be a new kind of pressure for Carr and the offense at-large because the moment he has a game like the 2018 season opener (300 yards, 0tds, 3ints) all eyes will be on him. If the pick is clearly a developmental player then Carr may yet still have time but no matter what he will have to generate the stat that is unfairly attributed to QB’s, wins.

Truly, even a season spent at .500 would be a massive boost of morale for those fans who may live in the Bay Area but will follow them to the desert. 7-9 would also be a moral victory, but the team and likely Carr could not survive another 4-12, 5-11 season. Gruden knows that and it may explain a number of the moves the Raiders have made this off-season. April will be the final garnish on the most important off-season in team history. If the offense remains mostly intact through the end of April then Gruden will finally have a chance to knock it out of the park, and he doesn’t have to go that far to get it done.

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Marr
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Marr

Y’all should do some editing on this article.