An­to­nio Brown signs with Pa­tri­ots hours after be­ing cut by Raiders

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY JOSH DUBOW

An­to­nio Brown agreed to terms with the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots hours after the Oak­land Raiders cut him, go­ing from the NFL’s cel­lar to the de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons on Satur­day de­spite wear­ing out his wel­come with two teams in one off­sea­son.

Brown’s agent, Drew Rosen­haus, con­firmed the agree­ment to The As­so­ci­ated Press. Brown had been sched­uled to earn up to $50 mil­lion from Oak­land over the three-year deal. In­stead, the Pa­tri­ots guar­an­teed him $9 mil­lion this season, with the po­ten­tial to earn as much as $15 mil­lion.

Brown posted a pic­ture of him­self in a Pa­tri­ots uni­form on Instagram shortly after ESPN first re­ported the sign­ing. The post was soon liked by New Eng­land re­ceiver Ju­lian Edel­man, who al­ready was split­ting quar­ter­back Tom Brady’s at­ten­tion with one trou­ble­mak­ing re­ceiver, Josh Gordon.

A Pa­tri­ots spokesman did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

New Eng­land opens the season against the Steel­ers on Sun­day night, when they will raise their sixth Su­per Bowl cham­pi­onship ban­ner. Brown is un­likely to play, but even his pres­ence on the Pa­tri­ots’ side­line adds a new wrin­kle to his tu­mul­tuous ten­ure in Pitts­burgh.

A four-time All-Pro who caught 837 passes over nine sea­sons with the Steel­ers, the team tired of Brown’s an­tics and traded him to Oak­land in March. But he never made it onto the field in a Raiders uni­form.

In­stead of pro­vid­ing them with a mar­quee star in their fi­nal season in Oak­land be­fore mov­ing to Las Vegas, Brown gave them months of headaches, from a bizarre foot in­jury to a fight over his hel­met to the blowups this

week that ended his ca­reer there be­fore it be­gan.

The Raiders granted the dis­grun­tled but tal­ented re­ceiver his Satur­day morn­ing, two days be­fore their season opener.

“We just ex­hausted ev­ery­thing,” Gru­den said. “We tried every way pos­si­ble to make it work. All I’m go­ing to say is, it’s dis­ap­point­ing.”

Brown asked for the re­lease after he was up­set about his lat­est team fine over an out­burst dur­ing prac­tice at gen­eral man­ager Mike May­ock. That fine al­lowed the Raiders to void more than $29 milThe lion in guar­an­tees over the next two years in Brown’s con­tract if he wasn’t on the team.

The Raiders traded two mid-round draft picks to Pitts­burgh for the game’s most pro­lific re­ceiver and gave him a three-year con­tract worth $50.1 mil­lion that now is void; Brown could still file a grievance to re­cover the guar­an­teed money.

The moves on Satur­day fol­low a week in which Brown posted a let­ter on so­cial me­dia de­tail­ing $54,000 in fines for miss­ing team ac­tiv­i­ties. (ESPN re­ported that he would be fined $215,073 for conduct detri­men­tal to the team.)

Brown was ban­ished for one day, then re­turned to the team and apol­o­gized in a meet­ing and in a brief pub­lic state­ment. Gru­den said the plan was for Brown to play in the opener Mon­day night against Den­ver, but that changed after Brown re­quested and was granted his re­lease.

“It’s been crazy,” Oak­land re­ceiver Tyrell Wil­liams said. “We feel how everybody else feels. It’s been wild, it’s been crazy, it’s been un­ex­pected. But we’re go­ing to go out there and play re­gard­less. He made that de­ci­sion. We’re go­ing to go out there and play how we’re go­ing to play.”

Raiders had been counting on Brown to spark an of­fense that lacked play­mak­ers a year ago. Brown had 686 catches and 9,145 yards re­ceiv­ing the past six sea­sons in Pitts­burgh, the best marks ever for a re­ceiver in a six-year span.

But now they must move on with­out him.

“It’s been an emo­tional thing for me,” Gru­den said. “I was very hope­ful about what he could bring here. Un­for­tu­nately, it’s not go­ing to hap­pen. He’s a good guy. He’s mis­un­der­stood by a lot of peo­ple but he’s a good guy, a great player and I hope he gets what he’s look­ing for.”

JEFF CHIU AP

New Eng­land guar­an­teed An­to­nio Brown $9 mil­lion this season, with the po­ten­tial to earn as much as $15 mil­lion.

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