The Raiders once considered Antonio Brown a potential savior for the offense. Now, before the first Sunday of the NFL season, his time with them is over.
His time with the Patriots, however, is just beginning.
After a series of controversial off-field issues in Oakland — including his refusal to switch to a new helmet to comply with NFL guidelines, a reported confrontation with general manager Mike Mayock over a series of fines for missing practice, and his posting of a videotape Friday night that included a tape recording of a conversation with coach Jon Gruden — the Raiders had enough and released him Saturday.
Within hours, Brown had found a new team. The Patriots, who have not shied away from signing controversial players in the past, added Brown to a team coming off its sixth Super Bowl victory.
Brown can’t play in Sunday night’s game against the Steelers — who had traded him to the Raiders in the offseason — because he wasn’t on the Patriots’ roster in time, but his signing will become official on Monday.
Brown had signed a new $50 million contract with the Raiders, but he no longer will receive the nearly $30 million in guaranteed money from the deal.
Brown, who missed time at the beginning of training camp because his feet had been burned during a cryogenics session, said the Raiders had changed the terms of his contract after he issued an apology to the team for his behavior.
The Raiders, who will host the Broncos on Monday night, announced Brown’s release in a Twitter statement released at 11:56 a.m. Eastern time on Saturday. “The Raiders have released WR Antonio Brown from the team today,” the statement read.
Brown had posted a message on Instagram earlier Saturday asking for his release.
His ouster comes less than 24 hours after Brown posted a video that included a portion of a telephone conversation with Gruden.
“We just have exhausted everything,” Gruden said Saturday after Brown’s release. “We tried every way possible to make it work. And all I’m going to say is it’s disappointing.
“I’m really proud of our players, our coaches, our front office, our owner. We did everything we could to make this work. I’m sorry it didn’t. I apologize, but I’ll tell you, I’m very proud of what we did as an organization to try.
“I wish Antonio the best. I’m sorry we never got a chance to see him in silver and black. Very disappointing. I looked forward to coaching him, but it’s not going to happen.”
The Patriots have taken chances on players who have flamed out with other teams. One of their most successful ventures was with Randy Moss, who was traded by the Raiders in 2007. Former Bengals running back Corey Dillon also found success in New England, but others — including Chad Johnson and Albert Haynesworth — have not fared as well.
The Steelers grew weary of Brown’s antics last season, and it came to a head when he refused to play in the team’s final regular season game because he felt he was being unfairly criticized. The Raiders traded a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick for Brown.
The Steelers drafted Brown with the 195th overall pick in 2010, and he soon became a dominant receiver. In his first nine seasons, he had 837 catches for 11,207 yards and 74 touchdowns. He led the league twice in receiving yards.