SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones reacts to the news that the Oakland Raiders have cut Antonio Brown after a tumultuous couple of months with the team.
The baggage is not complementary when it comes to Antonio Brown.
Any team that chooses to sign him — assuming his agent Drew Rosenhaus’ search for the next organization signals his client’s desire to continue playing football — will not only be paying for an elite wide receiver, but also a past in which he’s torched his two previous teams on the way out. Brown can sign with any team after 4 p.m. Saturday.
Twitter is hardly logical, but the collective clamoring across social media Saturday after the Oakland Raiders released Brown, ending a months-long saga since he joined the organization in March, is for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots to scoop up the wideout.
Such a precedent is in place for the organization and Belichick, who has brought in players seeking a change of scenery before. Before Brown made it cool to rail the Raiders, Randy Moss was unhappy in Oakland following the 2006 season. The two teams worked out a deal during the 2007 NFL Draft, and Moss became an integral member of a record-setting offense that came within a game of going undefeated.
More than a decade later, when the Cleveland Browns gave up on receiver Josh Gordon, they found a willing trade partner in New England. Gordon played 11 games and had 40 catches for 720 yards and three touchdowns. (Gordon has been reinstated from his Dec. 20 suspension that kept him out of the Patriots’ postseason games.)
The Patriots aren’t in dire need of receiver help. Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, Philip Dorsett II and Gordon form a solid crew for quarterback Tom Brady to spread the ball around. But adding premier talent for potentially dimes on the dollar — Brown can sign for any amount; Oakland voided nearly $30 million in guarantees — fits the Belichick model. Plus, the Patriots are always creative in finding a morsel of cap space to make any deal possible.
New England is the favorite to win the AFC East for the 17th time in 18 seasons, with or without Brown. Adding him would make the path even clearer and could help bring a third Super Bowl in four years to the Patriots.
It didn’t work out between Brown and one of the league’s most eccentric personalities, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. Maybe Seahawks coach Pete Carroll can find a way to get through to him and create a positive work environment. Imagine Russell Wilson escaping a rush, rolling out and finding a streaking Brown down the sideline for a long score.
Owner Jerry Jones is permanently prepared to make a splash. There are plenty of big personalities on the team already, and the proverbial pie Jones refers to when discussing future contracts shrinks with each extension. Pairing Brown with Amari Cooper to give Dak Prescott another weapon, along with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, would give Dallas one of the best offenses in the NFC.
The Redskins have shown they aren’t afraid to take a chance on veteran talent (think Adrian Peterson). For an organization cast in a negative light in nearly every scenario, this may be a stretch.