I think we’ve seen the last of Antonio Brown. The Raiders released him today, and I don’t know that there’s another team that would be willing to roll the dice on him.
For Brown, he lost interest in Oakland when they fine him. That move gave them the ability to go after the guaranteed money in his contract if there were any further incidents. He asked for his release, and the team granted it. They’ll no doubt battle over how much money the team owes him, but he’s not playing there.
I have skimmed over the other 31 teams. I don’t see one that would be particularly likely to take a chance on him. Too toxic, and too volatile. Maybe there’s an injury with some team like Kansas City or New Orleans, changing their thinking, but right now, I am in the camp that wouldn’t even carry Brown on a fantasy roster. I would rather give my last roster spot to a long-shot receiver like Trey Quinn, John Ross or Rashard Higgins – that’s how confident I am that Brown isn’t playing in the NFL.
Brown still has ability. I watched him on Hard Knocks, running routes and catching balls off the jugs machine. He’s 31, but I think he’s still one of the five best receivers on the planet. But I suppose his next team now is probably of the XFL variety.
As for the Raiders, the depth chart at their team website indicates J.J. Nelson (formerly of Arizona) will move into the starting lineup, joining Tyrell Williams. Neither is suited to be a heavily featured receiver. Their both best used as deep threats. Nelson is tiny (5-10, 160). Williams is tall and lanky (6-4, 205). Williams at least has shown some ability to be productive; when Keenan Allen missed 15 games in 2016, Williams led the Chargers with 69 catches for 1,059 yards and 7 TDs – good chance at top-40 receiving numbers now.
The Raiders plan to use rookie Hunter Renfrow in the slot, but I haven’t seen any evidence that they’re sitting on another Wes Welker or Danny Amendola. They kept veteran Ryan Grant, but he wasn’t able to get enough separation last year in Oakland. The Raiders released rookie Keelan Doss, and I would expect they’ll look into trying to sign him off Jacksonville’s practice squad. To me, Doss looks better than Grant.
The winner in this whole deal could be tight end Darren Waller. When the Raiders had receiver problems last year, Jared Cook became a heavily featured part of the offense. Waller looks like he might be able to do a lot of those same things.
Derek Carr is now definitely not one of the top-25 quarterbacks on my board.