Through all the offseason distractions involving Antonio Brown, the Oakland Raiders now find themselves in a promising spot, having won three out of their first five games of the 2019 campaign. The Raiders appear to be a team on the rise that certainly begs the question of whether Brown may regret forcing his way out of Oakland.
Antonio Brown’s Raiders drama
The Raiders began their offseason with what they believed to be a franchise-changing move by acquiring All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It put in place one of the league’s best wide receivers as their primary receiving threat, effectively replacing Pro Bowler Amari Cooper. However, things quickly unraveled as Brown’s involvement in off-the-field matters such as his helmet grievances and frost-bitten feet prevented him from ever truly getting on the same page with the team.
It eventually led the Raiders to fine him and void the $30 million in guarantees in his contract to release him. Brown may be an elite talent, but he proved to be too much of a headache for Oakland to keep tabs on continually.
The Raiders’ success without Antonio Brown
The loss of Brown put the Raiders without a significant piece in the offensive puzzle while placing more pressure on the rest of the receiving core to pick up the slack.
There have certainly been some offensive struggles along the way, but Oakland has found other options to help fill that massive void. It has seen veteran tight end Darren Waller step in as their primary asset in the passing game with a career-best pace, recording 37 catches for 359 receiving yards.
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs has proven to be the workhorse back that the Raiders envisioned as he has tallied 430 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the first five games. Jacobs is coming off the best performance of his young career with his first 100 rushing yard game, recording 123 yards and two touchdowns in the 24-21 win over the Chicago Bears.
It has put the Alabama product on a trajectory to post 1,376 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns. Meanwhile, quarterback Derek Carr has provided steady play under center with just one interception in the last three games. Oakland looks to be moving in the right direction with the possibility of competing for the playoffs and even making a strong run at the AFC West title.
Antonio Brown’s uncertain NFL future
Beyond the Raiders finding success without Brown, the Pro Bowl wideout’s NFL career is now up in the air.
The 31-year-old’s questionable decision-making off the field has put him out of a job with the New England Patriots less than two weeks with the team. He was in a promising situation with the Patriots, who look like the favorites to capture yet another Super Bowl, but his legal problems away from the game have ended that opportunity.
Brown may have voiced that he doesn’t desire a return to the league, but several serious problems swamp him. He has filed several grievances and appeals against the Raiders and Patriots to get back his guaranteed money while he’s also facing a pair of lawsuits linked to allegations of sexual misconduct.
On top of that, the latter could certainly see him receive a hefty suspension from the NFL if he were to pursue a return. There are plenty of hurdles that he faces first to get his life away from the game in order. It has been a rocky last several months that has unfortunately seen a once-promising career head south in such a short time.