The Antonio Brown era is officially over in Oakland, and not a moment too soon. After a drama-filled offseason, the Raiders decided they were better off without the four-time All-Pro. Brown is clearly a locker room distraction, but he’s also a phenomenal talent. Every team in the NFL is willing to overlook personal issues if the talent is there, so somebody is going to take a shot on Antonio Brown. The only question is who that team is going to be.
Before we get into this, I’ll start by pointing out that I would not sign Brown if I ran an NFL front office. As talented as he is, he’s just not worth the headache. However, I do not control NFL decision making, and these teams should be considered the frontrunners for Brown’s services.
Possible Destinations for Antonio Brown
New England Patriots
It would be the most New England Patriots thing ever if Antonio Brown ended up being a productive, team-friendly player in New England. For all the talk of the “Patriot Way”, Bill Belichick has shown a willingness to deal with off-field drama throughout his time as head coach. Whether it’s Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Michael Floyd, Albert Haynesworth, or Aaron Hernandez, Belichick has never shied away from bringing in talented players with questionable characters.
Brown certainly fits that bill. New England was reportedly linked to Brown when Pittsburgh was trying to shop him, but the Steelers refused to trade him to their longtime rival. Brown and Tom Brady have a documented admiration of each other’s games, and it’s easy to imagine a one-year deal between the two sides. Brown gets a chance to restore his value and image while New England gets an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position. If Antonio Brown joins Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon, it’s hard to see anyone stopping this offense.
Speaking of teams willing to overlook off-field issues, the Dallas Cowboys should be right in the thick of the Antonio Brown sweepstakes. Say what you will about his Instagram, Brown is a less of a locker room menace than Greg Hardy. Jerry Jones dealt with Terrell Owens and Dez Bryant through some tough times, so dealing with a troubled wide receiver wouldn’t be too out of character.
Last year, Dak Prescott made a massive leap once he got Amari Cooper. This will likely be Prescott’s last year on a team-friendly deal, so the Cowboys need to make this one count. Having an elite wide receiver in Brown combined with Cooper and Michael Gallup should give the Cowboys a dangerous passing attack to complement their ground game.
New York Jets
The Jets already showed that they’re willing to bring in Pittsburgh castoffs when they signed Le’Veon Bell in the offseason. Bell isn’t nearly the locker room nuisance that Brown is, but these two have a history of being productive together. While this signing would be something of a ticking time bomb, the offense would be fantastic when both players are on the field. It’s hard to imagine Brown signing anything more than a one-year deal with a new team, and New York could hope that a short-term deal could keep the locker room intact.
As far as the Jets are concerned, turning Sam Darnold into a franchise quarterback is the first priority for 2019. If giving Darnold an elite wide receiver can accomplish that goal, then New York might think the risk is worth it.
The Seattle Seahawks need somebody other than Tyler Lockett to catch the football. Russell Wilson is an elite talent, but he’s going to need somebody to help him out. Pete Carroll is no stranger to a fiery locker room, and winning tends to cure all tempers.
The Seahawks made a similar move back in 2013 when they traded a first-round pick for the talented-yet-troubled Percy Harvin. While Harvin didn’t work out in Seattle, this move shows that Seattle is willing to take their gambles on wide receivers with attitude problems.
Seattle just signed Wilson to a massive extension and are very much in win-now mode. Dealing with Brown for one year helps open up the offense and could be enough to win the division if Brown plays up to his talents. If it doesn’t work, Seattle can just move on and end up back at Square One just as Oakland did.