a man wearing a uniform: Pittsburgh Steelers v Oakland Raiders© Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Photos
Pittsburgh Steelers v Oakland Raiders

The Raiders received good worth in giving up solely third- and fifth-round picks for Antonio Brown. Guaranteeing him $30 million over the following three years is not any small danger—the Steelers simply discovered how depressing life will be with an often-unhinged diva on the books. However Oakland wouldn’t have acquired an costly, soon-to-be 31-year-old wideout in the event that they didn’t assume he might instantly catapult their anemic offense. So the query is: Can he?

If we’re speaking about simply Brown on the sphere, the reply is sure. Although now not “younger,” Brown has proven no trace of decline within the physique management or the multidirectional pace and quickness that permit him to blow up out and in of his breaks. On this important division, he’s higher than each receiver save for possibly Odell Beckham Jr.

Extra importantly, NFL cornerbacks will let you know that Brown’s best trait is his uncanny sense for getting away with push-offs and grabs. He doesn’t simply know when to contact defenders, but in addition how. For those who’re overlaying Brown one-on-one, you’re liable to have your collar gripped, your jersey tugged and your arm locked. Brown runs routes with the kinetic genius of an MMA fighter who understands set off factors. He is aware of at what spot in his route officers can’t see these tips, and the tips are inconceivable for a defender to organize for since they’re typically too delicate to see on movie. This craftiness transcends bodily aptitude, suggesting that when Brown’s toes do decelerate and his skill to separate declines, he’ll nonetheless have a powerful capability for making contested catches. He ought to stay productive for the following three years.

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That’s, if he’s in the precise scenario. Which brings us to Issue B of Oakland’s blockbuster commerce: the gamers round Brown. A false impression in 2018 was that Jon Gruden ran an unimaginative, outdated offense. However in reality, the Raiders, schematically, aimed for a contemporary passing recreation. That passing recreation was finally watered down as a result of Gruden didn’t imagine his rookie offensive tackles (Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker) might survive in go safety during a five-step dropback. And Gruden could not have trusted quarterback Derek Carr to persistently execute these five-step dropbacks, as they require the assertive, tight-windowed timing-and-rhythm throws that Carr, when he’s not taking part in confidently, has been identified to go up.

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Can issues change? At left sort out, Miller fights his tail off and is a couple of mechanical changes away from bettering in opposition to the bull rushes which have too typically left him wanting silly. The assumption in Oakland is the 2018 first-rounder will quickly be advantageous. Parker, the precise sort out, is a special story. The 2018 third-rounder confirmed little signal of long-term potential throughout a principally disastrous rookie season. A high quality NFL offense can scheme round an iffy proper sort out, however it might’t absolutely scheme round an outright dangerous one. Parker could have a brief leash, with declining veteran Donald Penn being the doubtless Plan B. Yikes.

If proper sort out is a problematic place, Carr should show he could make agency throws from a muddy pocket. In any other case, Gruden will return to that quick-strike passing recreation, grimacing between play calls and fantasizing about buying and selling for a 30-something-year-old QB with extra intestinal fortitude. In that state of affairs, Oakland’s intermediate passing recreation is diminished, and it’s on the intermediate ranges the place Brown is most harmful. Brown, in fact, can improve your unfold fast recreation, however these are inherently unthreatening routes. They don’t provide full worth out of your No. 1 receiver.

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Even when the Raiders can execute deeper dropbacks, there’s nonetheless the matter of Brown’s supporting forged. Jordy Nelson can now not run. Marcell Ateman by no means might. Slot man Seth Roberts is a top quality seam route runner however nothing extra. Martavis Bryant is suspended indefinitely. And if free agent Jared Cook dinner shouldn’t be re-signed, the Raiders don’t have any receiving tight finish risk, which removes an enormous chunk of their passing recreation’s schematic flexibility, together with in formationing and pre-snap movement (techniques that may outline the protection, serving to a jittery QB play extra decisively). With out higher weapons round him, Brown will entice further defensive consideration the best way Brooklyn attracts hipsters, with safeties rolling to him, linebackers sinking beneath him and corners, protected in all instructions, urgent him aggressively.

The Raiders have loads of cap house and three first-round picks, however even when they’ll drastically enhance extra of their offense, Brown is in a considerably worse scenario than he was in Pittsburgh. Given what we’ve seen from him these days, how Brown handles that adversity is anybody’s guess.

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