Just five days before their scheduled game on Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos, reports broke that the Oakland Raiders were planning on suspending Antonio Brown for a recent altercation with general manager Mike Mayock. This news joins the long list of negative headlines Brown has generated this offseason.
With the situation between Brown and Mayock reaching its boiling point, Oakland could be looking for a way to get rid of Antonio Brown. Seeing as it would be extremely difficult to trade him under his current contract with the way he has been acting over the last few months, the Raiders’ best bet may be to try to void the guarantees in Brown’s contract before releasing him. Can this work?
How the Brown and Mayock feud unfolded
Mike Mayock finally broke his silence about Antonio Brown and the helmet situation last month when he stated that the Raiders had “exhausted all avenues of relief”. He then issued an ultimatum, claiming that Antonio Brown had to either be “all-in or all-out” on being a Raider.
Brown eventually did return to camp, and the helmet issue seemed to be behind him. But actions have consequences, and the Oakland Raiders issued a fine to Brown for his unexcused absences at training camp.
Unwilling to accept responsibility for his action, Brown chose to escalate the situation by posting a copy of the letter he received from Mike Mayock on Instagram. He did so with the following caption: “When your own team want to hate but there’s no stopping me now devil is a lie. Everyone got to pay this year so we clear.”
On Wednesday, Mayock and Brown got into a shouting match. Brown reportedly threatened to punch Mayock in the face and challenged the general manager to fine him again after punting a ball.
The Raiders will look to void Brown’s contract
By officially suspending Antonio Brown, the Raiders have opened the door to attempting to void the guaranteed money in his contract. By the letter of the law, they seem to have an excellent case.
According to the default language in Brown’s contact regarding voided guarantees:
“Notwithstanding this Skill, Injury and Cap Guarantee, Player shall report to Club, practice with Club, play with Club, and honor all terms of the Contract, including all addenda thereto. If at any time Player does not report to Club; does not practice or play with Club … is suspended by the NFL or Club for conduct detrimental … then Player shall be in default (“Default”) and the Skill, Injury and Cap Guarantee shall be null and void and Player shall be only eligible to earn his remaining stated Paragraph 5 salary on a weekly, non-guaranteed basis if Player is on Club’s roster for the 2019 League Year and meets all ordinary criteria for earning Paragraph 5 Salary, subject to any applicable fines.”
Antonio Brown is guilty of multiple offenses on this list, choosing not to report to practice and getting suspended for detrimental conduct. And this isn’t a case of a team trying to get out of a bad contract with an unwarranted suspension; Brown’s behavior and absences from practice have all been well documented on social media and on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
What happens next
Antonio Brown has spent the entire preseason arguing that he should be the only exception to the NFL’s new helmet rule. When he was (correctly) fined for his actions, he lashed out on Instagram and directly to Mayock.
This is a player that has shown time and time again that he believes that the rules should not apply to him. And that every time something doesn’t go his way, he’s going to throw a fit about it.
If the Raiders are successful in voiding the guaranteed salary in Brown’s contract, they will release him. But even if they aren’t able to recoup that money, is there anything about this situation that suggests that we will ever see Antonio Brown suiting up for the Oakland Raiders on Sundays?
Brown was willing to escalate this situation and claim that the Raiders were “hating on him” when it was just a totally standard fine. A suspension, followed by an attempt to void his contract? There’s no coming back from this.
Oakland took a gamble in trading for Brown last March, believing that his elite talent on the field was worth the potential trouble he might bring off the field. Perhaps in some alternate universe, it worked out great. But here in this universe, the Raiders took a huge loss on this gamble, and all that’s left to do now is try to limit the damage by recouping as much money from Brown’s contract as they can