It’s finally over! The storyline that kept the media churning for the majority of the offseason has finally subsided. After frostbitten feet, helmet grievances, and a Jon Gruden phone call made into a cinematic masterpiece worthy of its own showcase at the Sundance Festival, the Oakland Raiders have officially released Antonio Brown.
Schefter didn’t end there with his insight on the Brown release, reminding everyone that the future hall of famer is free to sign anywhere, at any moment.
The Patriot Way
Corey Dillion, Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, Josh Gordon, this list goes on and on of embattled, yet prolific talents finding their way to New England. While some acquisitions have fallen by the wayside, others have become driving forces in what is now arguably the greatest dynasty in team sports history.
Bill Belichick has shown time and time again he’s willing to give superior talent, superior chances. However, if that talent doesn’t buy in to the Patriots way, and fit into the scheme seamlessly, he will cut bait with the player as quickly as brought them in. Yet, if the player shows talent while on the field, Belichick’s leash will begin to loosen. This is most evident by Josh Gordon’s current tenure in New England.
Antonio Brown may scare away a lot of potential suitors, however Belichick and the Patriots have never been scared off by what others may think. Plus the chances that we know everything that happened internally in the AB-Raiders debacle is highly unlikely. In fact, even Jon Gruden defended the wideout, stating Brown is the “Most misunderstood f–king human being in my entire life, that I ever met.”
The Perfect Fit
With all due respect to Wes Welker and Julian Edelman, AB running routes within Josh McDaniels’ system would be unlike any thing we’ve ever witnessed. For years the Patriots have relied on scheme to win them matchups in the receiving game, but with Brown, the Patriots could pair schematics with talent, and take the league by storm, again. Other coaches within the league also seem to agree.
In reality there may not be a player better suited to play within the Patriots schematics, arguably ever. Call him crazy, call him self centered, call him what you want, but there is no arguing Brown’s talent, work ethic, and football smarts. While players like Chad Ochocino struggled to grasp the Patriots offense, Brown would have no issue picking up the complex schematics.
Antonio Brown may come in a 5’10”, a height that would kick most receivers inside, as a slot-only player, however Brown is one of the most moved around wideouts in football. Brown is as effective, if not more, on the outside as he is working out of the slot. Josh McDaniels would toy with defenses, lining up Brown in multiple positions, to attack the offense from a plethora of ways.
The Patriots have been known to play with undersized wideouts, in fact they tend to opt for those players. Julian Edelman, Deion Branch, Danny Amendola, and Troy Brown all excelled in the Patriots offense despite their miniature stature. Even then, those players are nowhere near the talent that Brown is.
For all the great things Randy Moss did during his time in New England, AB may be a better fit, and could possibly be more productive over time.
A Major Need
Rob Gronkowski has retired, and if recent comments point us in any direction, the chances of him returning to football any time soon are slim to none. First round wide receiver N’Keal Harry is ineligible to return to game action prior to week nine, due to being placed on the IR. Demaryius Thomas is still working himself back from injury, and it’s reasonable to question whether he is over the hill. For all the optimism and talent Josh Gordon brings to the table, he’s one slip up from being suspended again, and likely out of the league. That leaves a underperforming former first round pick Philip Dorsett, and a productive yet aging (33 years old) Julian Edelman, and James White, a running back, as the only reliable and noteworthy receiving options in the passing game.
Antonio Brown would be a welcomed help to any offense (on the field),however he will likely find the market to be less than welcoming due to his current actions.
In New England, Antonio Brown could restore his reputation, and lock up a future gold jacket. Along the way Belichick could add yet another ring to his collection. In a fitting way it’s the perfect marriage.