Looking back, it ought to have come as no shock that the Oakland Raiders had been desirous about Antonio Brown. In any case, the years basic supervisor Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden spent in tv had given them extra alternatives to see the celebrity broad receiver apply than nearly anybody within the league.
“I most likely have seen this man apply not less than 20 occasions over time,” Mayock stated. “I got here away saying there’s no person who works tougher between the strains than Antonio. Jon felt the identical manner. And that’s what we’ve seen right here. He’s been an important teammate. … He brings an power to the huddle and to the crew that’s simply superior to look at.”
The choice to commerce for Brown after which signal him to a contract extension was not solely the highest-profile transfer of the Raiders’ busy and closely scrutinized offseason; it was reflective of what Mayock and Gruden tried to do with most of their acquisitions — improve the roster and maximize the chance for quarterback Derek Carr to succeed, however on their very own phrases.
The Raiders determine to be on the heart of the NFL universe this coaching camp, with HBO cameras there to seize each second for “Arduous Knocks,” after an offseason by which they dominated headlines with big-name pickups and a trio of first-round draft picks. Win or lose, they are going to be some of the fascinating groups in soccer. In an interview final month, Mayock defined his and Gruden’s rationale for a number of of the strikes, which they hope will make the crew rather more aggressive after final 12 months’s 4-12 marketing campaign.
Oakland went into the offseason with a plan to encompass Carr with as a lot expertise as potential, so their curiosity was piqued when it grew to become clear Brown, whose relationship with the Pittsburgh Steelers had run its course, can be accessible through commerce. Mayock, a 1981 draft selection of the Steelers, has identified Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert for greater than 20 years, and the 2 males mentioned Brown a number of occasions. Mayock stated Colbert wished a first-round decide. The Raiders had three however weren’t going to surrender any of them in a commerce.
“We had been adamant about that,” Mayock stated.
Gruden and Mayock had been content material to cross on Brown until it was for the suitable worth, and so they benefited when a greater provide by no means materialized. The Steelers labored out a cope with the Buffalo Payments, however the Payments backed out due to what Brown wished in a brand new contract.
The Steelers contacted Gruden the subsequent day and requested if the Raiders would think about sending them a second-round decide.
“Jon bought on the cellphone with me straight away and stated, ‘Pittsburgh would do the deal for a No. 2,’ ” Mayock stated. “I stated no. Our second-round decide was 35, towards the highest of the second spherical. I assumed our first 4 picks (had been untouchable).”
Colbert referred to as Mayock and talked a couple of third-round decide, later asking Oakland to additionally throw in a fifth-rounder. The deal was “on and off the desk” whereas Oakland and Brown tried to agree on a brand new contract, however finally it bought carried out. Since agreeing with Brown on a three-year, $50.1 million deal that features $30.1 million in ensures, the Raiders have been impressed together with his dedication.
“He’s dedicated to what he believes,” Mayock stated. “That’s why he has a full-time nutritionist and full-time social media individuals. … He travels with a bunch, and he’s dedicated to it. He’s a sensible man.”
The Raiders didn’t cease there, including a second receiver in deep risk Tyrell Williams on a four-year, $44 million contract.
“He’s a West Coast man, and I believe he was enthusiastic about our A.B. signing, and I believe he wished to play for Jon,” Mayock stated. “We didn’t suppose he had sufficient cash left, to be frank. We had been in a position to sit down with Ty and his agent and bought a bit of inventive. I believe one of many challenges for our offense is to maneuver A.B. round to all three broad receiver positions and pressure defenses to seek out him, which is hard with a No. 2 man like Ty.”
Maybe essentially the most controversial signing in all of free company was the $16.5 million a 12 months invested in Trent Brown, who was the New England Patriots’ left deal with final season however will play proper deal with for the Raiders. He’s the highest-paid blocker in soccer — unparalleled for a proper deal with — however Mayock stated they’re pleased with the tandem of Brown and second-year left deal with Kolton Miller, a first-round decide a 12 months in the past.
“Once we checked out free company, we had some cash left,” Mayock stated. “Should you placed on the movie within the playoffs towards the Chargers and the Chiefs — and have in mind these two groups are in our division — (Brown) pitched a shutout. He might be up and down. He has some inconsistencies, however he’s nonetheless a pet. He’s like 26 years outdated. We really feel assured between Trent and Kolton we’ll have a very good deal with mixture for years to come back.”
With Brown and Williams at broad receiver, Brown and Miller on the deal with spots and first-round decide Josh Jacobs at operating again, Oakland has invested important assets within the supporting forged for Carr, who has struggled the previous two seasons. Oakland made strikes to handle its protection as properly, together with a four-year, $42 million for security LaMarcus Joyner, whom Mayock calls a “chief and a mentor” whose “soccer intelligence is off the charts,” and a one-year, $2 million flier on former Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
“I believe the factor that folks don’t find out about Vontaze is his intelligence,” Mayock stated of Burfict, who battled with Antonio Brown for years and has repeatedly been disciplined by the NFL for harmful hits. “You recognize, all of us get excited concerning the penalties and large hits, however on the finish of the day he will get us lined up. He understands (defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s) protection higher than anyone. If he’s in form and wholesome, he’s nonetheless a top-level linebacker.”
The crew took warmth for the collection of Clemson defensive finish Clelin Ferrell at fourth general, given Ferrell was projected to go within the center or later a part of the primary spherical, however Mayock says he feels good concerning the decide.
“What I like about Ferrell versus the opposite defensive ends (within the draft) is that I knew what we had been getting,” Mayock stated. “He’s 265 kilos and will find yourself enjoying at 275 to 280. He appears just like the protection ends Paul Guenther had in Cincinnati. He had a lot success with Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap.”
Gruden will doubtless must get large contributions out of Ferrell and the Raiders’ third first-rounder, security Johnathan Abram, for the protection to point out main enchancment. But when nothing else, they symbolize two fascinating items on what ought to be an enchanting crew this season, one which will probably be within the highlight all through coaching camp and into the beginning of the season.