Why the Raiders won’t trade for Steelers WR Antonio Brown

Franchise is taking the long view rather than quick fixes and looking toward the future

  • Antonio Brown (84) of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on August 25, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An ESPN report says the wide receiver has been traded to the Oakland Raiders. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 23, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is wrapped up for a tackle by Stephon Gilmore #24 of the New England Patriots in the first quarter during the game at Heinz Field on December 16, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a catch as Derwin James #33 of the Los Angeles Chargers attempts a tackle in the first half during the game at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts with Maurkice Pouncey #53 after a 28 yard touchdown reception in the second quarter during the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers waits on the field before their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on November 18, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

  • Wide Receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a touchdown in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs into the end zone past Denzel Ward #21 of the Cleveland Browns for a 43 yard touchdown reception during the second quarter in the game at Heinz Field on October 28, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs into the end zone for a 47 yard touchdown reception in front of Damontae Kazee #27 of the Atlanta Falcons and Robert Alford #23 in the second half during the game at Heinz Field on October 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

  • Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with James Conner #30 after a 26 yard touchdown reception in the second quarter during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on September 30, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 09: Antonio Brown attends 2019 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on February 9, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Roc Nation )

  • CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – FEBRUARY 17: Antonio Brown attends the 68th NBA All-Star Game on February 17, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jeff Hahne/Getty Images)

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ALAMEDA — The idea of Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown joining the Raiders is gaining steam, courtesy of NFL Network and others.

It’s tempting, no doubt.

Brown would instantly become one of the biggest offensive threats since Tim Brown, who was obviously was no relation and less controversial. Antonio Brown, author of six consecutive seasons of 100 or more receptions, would instantly become Derek Carr’s go-to guy.

Yet my understanding is that there isn’t going to be another Brown catching 100 passes for the Raiders this season (Tim had 104 receptions in 1997, the only time it’s happened in franchise history), regardless of where they call home.

Three possible reasons why it’s not expected to happen:

The Steelers want too much

As much as Jon Gruden loves veteran players — and had good experiences with both Andre Rison and Jerry Rice at the back end of their careers — he’s more interested in the future.

As was established when Khalil Mack was sent packing when his salary demands exceeded what the Raiders were willing to pay, Gruden and new general manager Mike Mayock are going to value draft picks and young talent.

All signs point to a draft and develop stage for the Raiders. Which means not parting with one of their later first-round draft picks (either No. 24 or No. 27) for a 30-year-old receiver.

If the price drops and there is a fire sale, things could change. Hard to see Pittsburgh dumping Brown with a $20 million cap hit and not getting at least a first-round pick in return, though.

Brown wants too much

Wouldn’t put too much stock in Brown’s erratic behavior as a deal-breaker. More of an issue for the Raiders was his proclamation that a team with “guaranteed” money step forward.

The financial issues matter. Brown is due $12,625 million in 2019, $11.3 million in 2020 and $12.5 million in 2021. Does he want that all guaranteed? Or does he perhaps want even more?

The stuff in the press, the blonde mustache, everything that goes with Brown, can easily scare a team off. It wouldn’t likely scare off Gruden. Keep in mind that Rison was a loose cannon who fit right in with the Raiders for one season. As for Rice, the 49ers didn’t know how to deal with him during the transition to Terrell Owens as the No. 1 receiver and Gruden coaxed an exceptional season out of him (plus another after he left).

Gruden loves the way Brown works. But he’d heard nothing but good things about Mack, was looking forward to coaching him, and was resolute (along with the rest of the front office) in letting him walk rather than getting the franchise overextended whether you agree with it or not.

The Mayock factor

The coach and G.M. are in their first year together, and Gruden truly wants Mayock’s input. If Gruden’s knee-jerk reaction would be to bring Brown aboard, Mayock’s job would be to point out the pitfalls and perhaps remind the coach that life with Keyshawn Johnson wasn’t all that grand.

You can’t compare Brown to Martavis Bryant — another Pittsburgh receiver whose work ethic Gruden loved — except in the sense that a G.M. with some legitimate input could encourage the head coach to take the long view.

The Brown-to-the-Raiders talk isn’t likely to back off, simply because even before Gruden, the Raiders have always been the team floated in public as a suitor simply because they never deny it and drive up interest.

The feeling here is while there is some interest in Brown, it’s not enough to substantially alter the Raiders’ financial structure for a short-term gain when the franchise is taking the long view.

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