Antonio Brown 's business is essentially based on money. We think of a lot of things – power, respect, aging, and two weights, double standards – but in the end it's a money exchange, so I did not think that was going to happen. happen. I'm not sure that there has been an exchange of this kind lately. A superstar player under a contract with a veteran was liquidated at the height of his career without offering his team any kind of salary savings.
By doing this trade now, the Steelers are not taking advantage of the opportunity to keep one of the top five football outsiders on their list, with $ 22.2 million in space to capture the opportunity to eat 21.1 millions of dollars of dead money in 2019 and let this guy play for someone else. Organizations consume this dead money only when they have a player who commits some discretion outside the field (Junior Galette, Ray Rice), or when they rebuild and dump underwater plan contracts previous (Marcell Dareus), and it's usually on two seasons.
The Raiders get: WR Antonio Brown
The Steelers receive: 3-66 and 5-141
Grade Raiders: A-
Steelers rank: C-
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As a 30-year-old catcher who touched the league last season, Brown is not one of those things. For a team in conflict with an aging quarterback, voluntarily turning 11% of his salary cap into dead money requires a set of very specific and strange circumstances. Making this decision and accumulating a pair of mid-round choices is potentially unprecedented.
When it seemed that the Steelers were grumpy about Brown, I assumed that both sides would ultimately work toward a resolution, mainly because it did not have a financial sense for the company. Team to give themselves some leeway to let Brown go elsewhere. Things changed when Brown went on social media and said that he also wanted to change the scenery. It was not quite Terrell Owens who was doing sit-ups in his driveway, but Brown logging into Twitter and calling Ben Roethlisberger had not done him any favors.
In trying to get out of Pittsburgh, Brown has eroded the weight of the organization. The Steelers have spent the last two months debating publicly, alternating stories that suggested a trade based on a first-round pick before suggesting that it would not be the case. They set a deadline for the final offer to Friday and then left that deadline round-trip. After press conferences and media reports from various levels of the organization seemingly contradict each other, they have forced to settle for the third and fifth round picks of the only team that seemed seriously interested in bidding for Brown throughout the process.
Imagine going back 12 months to tell the Steelers biggest fan that you knew Pittsburgh traded Brown for two choices on Saturday. Heck, imagine that you came back six months ago and that you know that the biggest supporters of the Steelers would be willing to work under a contract signed by the Raiders.
The problem of money
If you want to know where everything went wrong in the relationship between the Steelers and Brown, start with one of the best contracts in the history of modern leagues. After Brown's second year in the league saw a 1,108-yard season, the team gave a huge boost to its former sixth-round pick by signing a $ 42-million, five-year signature of $ 8.5 million. The Steelers were only able to sign Brown after two seasons because he had been recruited under the old collective agreement; If Brown had been selected after the 2010 campaign, the Steelers would have had to wait for a third season before signing the contract with Brown.
In fourth year, Brown stood out as one of the league's best outsiders with a 1,499-yard campaign. From 2013 to 2016, Brown was on average – on average – 120 catches, 1,578 yards and 11 touchdowns per season. Since he was under contract until the end of the 2017 season, the Steelers were able to pay Brown $ 28.8 million over four years, a little more than the average annual salary Robert Meachem and Laurent Robinson. enter a free agency. Former Steelers teammate Mike Wallace went public and signed a $ 60 million, five-year contract with the Dolphins, which brought him $ 36.9 million over three seasons before the start of the year. to be eliminated after 2015.
Antonio Brown will respect – and respect – his head coach Jon Gruden, and he should add a good spice to the Raiders' mix.
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Antonio Brown goes to the Raiders for a modest selection and leaves the Steelers a lot of dead money.
Brown earned less than half of his true market value, and although most players charge him in their contracts with recruits, he struggled with his second contract. As the Steelers cape was blocked by poor financial decisions, it restructured Brown's contract several times in order to create short-term pockets of capitalization without giving it a significant boost. (For those who did not know the cap, these restructurings meant that Brown would receive most of his weekly base salary in March, bring the same amount of cash back home and get paid sooner, but the Steelers would be allowed. divide the ceiling reached for the restructured bonus over several years, creating a temporary space).
Partly because of these concerns, Pittsburgh has waited five years and is waiting for the last year of Brown's extension to grant an extension to his star catcher. Most teams will say that waiting until the last year of a contract to distribute a new contract falls under organizational policy, with Pittsburgh in particular. However, the Steelers granted Roethlisberger an extension of the remaining period in 2008.
When they agreed with Brown, they applied a cap structure that is generally unique to the Steelers. Most teams grant extensions to star players by granting an immediate signing bonus and guaranteeing at least two years of base salary, making it extremely likely that a player remains on the list for these two seasons. For a quarterback star or a transcendent player like Brown, a team will either explicitly guarantee three seasons, or structure the contract to make it virtually impossible to remove a player for cap.
Instead, the Steelers' policy is to guarantee bonuses only in the first year of their transactions. Cameron Heyward's transaction has a guarantee of $ 15 million, with a signing bonus of $ 12 million and a $ 3 million alignment bonus paid in the first year, but nothing has been done. other later. The elite goalie David DeCastro has a $ 16 million guarantee, all in his signature bonus. Even the most recent Roethlisberger expansion is a $ 31 million signing bonus with no other collateral, although the veteran quarter did not get partial warranties for injury until years two and three.
After waiting for years to get his contract, Brown got $ 19 million guaranteed when he signed his contract, all in the signing bonus. Add a base salary of $ 910,000 and Brown will earn $ 19.9 million in 2017 as part of an extension of $ 68 million over four years. It's fine, of course, but when DeAndre Hopkins signed his extension six months later. He won $ 24 million in 2017 and still had a guaranteed base salary of $ 12.5 million for the following season. The extension of Brandin Cooks paid $ 11 million the first year, but the structure of the transaction basically guarantees that it will win $ 63.5 million over the next four seasons. Brown does not reach this stage as he continues to be excellent.
The reason a player would be willing to accept an agreement with this type of structure is that the significant signing bonus usually protects them against cuts, even without a guaranteed salary. For example, at the approach of last season, the Steelers had to choose between keeping Brown in their list with a cap of $ 16.8 million or cutting it or swapping it, which would have cost 15, $ 2 million in fortune. In this scenario, they would choose to keep Brown 999 times out of 1,000, but you can also imagine how this one-thousand example might be enough to upset Brown, if only because it just happened.
Pittsburgh's latest mistake – and a clear sign that she was not expecting to leave Brown soon – was the restructuring of her contract for the last season. The Steelers owed him a base salary of $ 7.9 million and an alignment bonus of $ 6 million, which was not guaranteed, but they converted a salary of $ 7 million and the bonus of alignment of $ 6 million in a signing bonus. That decision brought in $ 13 million to Brown, the remaining $ 915,000 being paid during the season, and $ 9.7 million in space available in 2018. That's the kind of thing that you only do if you are absolutely certain do not need to move from this player to the next season.
If the Steelers had not restructured Brown 's contract, they could have traded him and owed 11.4 million dollars of dead money. The deal would have represented a saving of up to $ 7.5 million. Instead, because they've used Brown's agreement to create more short-term capitalization, they will need $ 21.1 million in unpaid debts for Brown this year, which is considered the biggest total of dead money in a season for a player in history.
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Given what has happened over the last decade, you may understand why Brown would feel financially disrespectful, even with a contract with an average annual salary of $ 17 million in new currency. There was no chance the Steelers, who had been playing one of the best football deals for years, would uproot the structure of their contracts by giving Brown another extension or even securing a season with another three years to go. flow out. Instead, they preferred to let someone else pay Brown.
That's one of the reasons they have not managed to get along with the Veon Bell, who says the Steelers have offered him only $ 17 million guaranteed under a $ 70 million five-year contract. This contractual policy will cost the team the two flagship weapons of the same season and its cap philosophy will make the pain of this decision felt during one of the last seasons of Roethlisberger's career.
Compare the Steelers to the team that has prevented them from returning to the Super Bowl in the last eight seasons. The Patriotes rarely restructure their contracts, and when they do, it's not the kind of optimized move the Steelers have made with Brown. Tom Brady is the only player in the Pats lineup to hold more than $ 1.3 million of restructured capital in 2018 or 2019. The Pats also had a similar deal with Brown's initial expansion, with a an extension of $ 54 million that they had awarded to Rob Gronkowski after his second season in the league. However, unlike the Steelers, the Patriots have softened Gronkowski's deal by adding incentives. to help keep their happy star happy.
Oakland gets its No. 1 receiver
Of course, it's tempting to merge the Amari Cooper transaction into this deal and point out that the Raiders exchanged Cooper and two choices in the middle of the round against Antonio Brown and a player in the first round. This has of course been the case in the long run, but it is not the right way to think. The Raiders did not trade Cooper, knowing that Brown would be available for a pittance. Comparing the relative merits of Brown and Cooper is irrelevant because the Raiders have never had a chance to choose between them.
In evaluating this trade in isolation, it is difficult to find an argument against the Raiders doing the move. The clearing project is a water drop for a team with three first-round picks, with new general manager Mike Mayock having resisted Pittsburgh's attempts to negotiate a first-round pick in the media. The 66th and 141st choices are equivalent to the 41st choice in a typical draft of Chase Stuart's preliminary diagram, while Jimmy Johnson's traditional diagram adds them as something closer to the 61st selection. In any case, if you wish to invoke a recent exchange of Raiders, it is the same organization that used third and fifth round picks to exchange Martavis Bryant and AJ McCarron under Jon's supervision. Gruden.
On the financial side, the Raiders entered the off-season with over $ 60 million in capitalization. The absorption of a new deal for Brown would not be a problem. AB's new deal would be a $ 54.1 million, three-year, $ 30 million guarantee, far from the zero and cents left on its contract with the Steelers.
In reality, it is not a contract as huge as it may seem. Brown was not going to suffer a pay cut, so any team trading for him was going to pay him a minimum of $ 15.1 million that he had to have this season. We do not yet know how his deal is structured, but with this $ 30 million figure, it seems likely that he will get a second year guarantee under this new deal, which is not the case. at all crazy. You would think that a merchant team for Brown would expect to have him on his roster for at least two seasons.
The figure of $ 54.1 million corresponds to an average annual salary of $ 18,333,333, which is not a coincidence, given that the highest average annual salary is Odell Beckham Jr. makes $ 18 million a year. Brown may need to find incentives to achieve this goal, but it appears the Raiders have added about $ 3.75 million a year to Brown's existing contract. In a league in which Sammy Watkins got three years and $ 48 million in free competition last year – a mark that would translate into $ 51 million after a year of capped inflation – gives Brown $ 54 million on three years really unreasonable? I do not think so.
In the field, this decision reminds me a lot of why the Cowboys traded against Cooper, actually. When I analyzed this agreement, I wrote that the Cowboys were acquiring Cooper to help evaluate Dak Prescott in anticipation of a possible extension of the off season. Negotiating for Cooper also allowed the Cowboys to get ahead of a terrifying market and, although no one could expect the Cowboys to enter a 7-2 race with Cooper in training, the logic was obvious.
Oakland has its own evaluation here. Jon Gruden spent a year with Derek Carr, and although the results were uneven at times, Carr did not have a formidable receiver corps. He was lucky enough to give Jared Cook a career-wise 101 passes, but Jordy Nelson fared well at 33. Seth Roberts continued to lose the battle against the drops. With Cook as a free agent, Carr watched the bodies of Nelson, Marcell Ateman and Derek Carrier closely. I do not need to tell you how Brown improves this.
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If the Raiders decide to recruit a quarterback in the first round, playing with Brown allows Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins to adapt more easily to the professional game. Few league receivers are as skilled at opening up against just about any type of coverage. With limited weapons elsewhere in training and a mediocre list in the middle of a rebuild, Brown is well positioned to reach any targets that he might desire. It would not be a surprise if he became the first player to score 200 goals in a season since Julio Jones in 2015.
Realistically, this movement also has a marketing element. When I wrote about the Cooper trade, I mentioned that the nearest Las Vegas display panel of the future Raiders stadium featured only Gruden and Gruden. After trading Cooper and Mack in one season, keeping Gruden on the board was a good idea, as he seemed to be the only one able to get back to Las Vegas in 2020. Negotiating for Brown gives the Raiders a star to build around as they move to Sin City. People would not stand in line to buy Carrier or Ateman jerseys. Brown is a superstar in good faith.
Is there a chance that it will go south? Of course, especially in the second year. Remember that Gruden inherited Keyshawn Johnson when he took over the Bucs in 2002. They won the Super Bowl together in Gruden's first season in Tampa. Halfway through the next campaign, the relationship between Gruden and Johnson became so toxic that the Bucs sent Johnson home and turned him off for the last seven games of the year.
Even if that happens, however, the Raiders will have some money and a pair of mid-term choices. There is no one like Brown in this class of free agents, and there is no one who can move the needle over for his fans who would have also considered Oakland. There is a risk involved, but it is a risk that the Raiders had to take.
Pittsburgh loses his receiver No. … no?
One of the reasons the Steelers will be able to do this business and sleep at night is the presence of JuJu Smith-Schuster, who will not be 23 years old until November 23 and who appears to be One of the most promising young prospects of recent times. Since entering the 9th week of his rookie season, Smith-Schuster averaged 91.8 passing yards, fourth in the NFL behind Hopkins, Jones and Brown.
Hopkins and Jones are clearly the first two options for their own mistakes, while Smith-Schuster must give huge amounts of touch to Brown. Smith-Schuster has an average of 9.6 targets per game against 11.3 for Brown, not to mention the 10.9 targets per game for Hopkins or 10.3 for Jones by competition. Give Smith-Schuster a bigger role, give a few goals to James Washington, a sophomore, and the Steelers should get out of it. Right?]
Jeremy Fowler said that the Raiders still wanted Antonio Brown to be in their attack and that they "were the last team to rank."
It is not so simple. On the one hand, plugging Washington as a guaranteed wide starting receiver is dangerous. The Steelers have recently touched formations such as Brown, Smith-Schuster, Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders, but they have also used third-round picks against Dri Archer, Sammie Coates and Markus Wheaton, who have not become regulars. Washington has caught only 42.1% of the passes that were launched as a rookie; Of course, it's still too early to judge, but it's not as if the 60th overall has done anything to make us believe it was a plug-and-play star for the first year .
Smith-Schuster and Brown are not exactly the same type either. Yahoo's Matt Harmon followed their two seasons and found that Smith-Schuster was queuing a lot more often in the slot, which resulted in much less media coverage. Brown was double-teamed more than 10 times more often than Smith-Schuster. If Brown leaves, the Steelers will likely continue to let Smith-Schuster record more than half of his catches in the slot, but the talented third-year play will undoubtedly spark further attention. The Steelers will also have to find a person who can win against an outside press coverage without Brown.
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Pittsburgh must probably find at least one wide veteran receiver to participate, which will be painful given Brown's aforementioned attack. The team has already discussed the idea of restructuring Roethlisberger's contract to create a production room, but with a year remaining to yield to the 37-year agreement, any change will be an extension of Roethlisberger's maintenance while creating a short-term production room. The Steelers will eventually pay for their accounting, as they are with Brown here, but they should be able to create about 6 to 7 million dollars of ceilings with a Roethlisberger extension, which could lead to a new wave.
They will probably also run the ball more often in 2019 with Brown on the Raiders. They threw the ball on 67.4% of their offensive catch last season, the second highest rate in football behind the Packers. A better-performing Steelers team will run the ball with a lead more often in the fourth quarter, but even after taking into account changes to the game script, the Steelers should trust James Conner more than a year ago. Conner touched the ball 20.7 times per game last season, compared to 27.1 hits per game in 2017.
AB gets an A?
I normally consider these notes from the team's point of view, in part because it's generally easier to understand the operation and reflections of a team on dozens of acquisitions and Outlets only think of the thing from the point of view of a player who could only sign one or two offers during their career. All NFL players are largely underpaid in a vacuum, but in the context of a league with a salary cap, money matters.
From my point of view, it seems that Antonio Brown fought to get what he wanted and was successful. He wanted to call Ben Roethlisberger for disrespect and did so publicly, prompting an embarrassing comment from General Manager Kevin Colbert that the Steelers had 52 children under Roethlisberger. Brown wanted guaranteed money and a revival of an organization that considered it anathema, only to play his cards well and get exactly that from another organization. He wanted to be respected and appreciated for his work.
No, his chances of winning a Super Bowl are not as high as a month ago. After being underpaid for a good part of the decade, you will understand, however, why Brown would like to take advantage of what will likely be his last chance to get money out of the ordinary. The Steelers will still be good at the attack in 2019, but without their star receiver and if Bell followed him to the door, they could have been paid a last chance to win a Super Bowl with Roethlisberger at the helm.