Jon Gruden: Raiders 'Exhausted Everything' to Keep Antonio Brown Before Release

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2019

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden gestures on the sideline during the first half of an NFL football preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

Head coach Jon Gruden talked to reporters on Saturday afternoon, addressing the release of star wide receiver Antonio Brown after a drama-filled summer.

"We've exhausted everything. We tried every way possible to make it work," he said. "All I'm gonna say is it's disappointing. I'm really proud of our players, our coaches, our owner, our front office—we did everything we could to make this work and I'm sorry it didn't. I apologize, but I will tell you I'm very proud of what we did as an organization to try."

Jerry McDonald @Jerrymcd

Jon Gruden on Antonio Brown https://t.co/nH0dObgUVR

Gruden also wished Brown luck going forward and said he was glad he actually got to meet Brown, unlike defensive end Khalil Mack, who the Raiders traded last offseason before he ever joined the team amid a contract dispute:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

@nflnetwork "He's a good guy, he's a great player and I hope he gets what he's looking for." What was the last straw with AB? Gruden says it was a series of things. Says he's sorry to the #Raiders fans.

Vic Tafur @VicTafur

Gruden: “At least I got to meet Antonio. I never got to meet Khalil.”

"Our captains did everything they could to make this work," Gruden added, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic.

Linebacker and team captain Tahir Whitehead echoed Gruden's sentiments.

"At the end of the day, he didn't want to be here," he said, per Tafur. "And the other guys here put the team first. We did everything we could to support him and tell him we wanted him here."

The Raiders and Brown's relationship was a rocky one all summer long. Brown missed time at training camp with foot issues after a cryotherapy session went wrong and while he was disputing with the NFL over his banned helmet, all while HBO's cameras were documenting the team for Hard Knocks.

But things came to a boil when the Raiders fined Brown for missing practices. Brown posted the letter informing him of those fines on social media, which Tafur reported led to a heated confrontation with general manager Mike Mayock, and while Brown apologized to the team and made a public statement about moving forward with the Raiders, he also posted a video which included a recorded phone conversation with Gruden.

And the Raiders weren't done with the fines, not only hitting him with another fine for his confrontation with Mayock but also voiding the guarantees in his contract.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

By fining Antonio Brown $215,073.53 last night for conduct detrimental to the team on Sept. 4, the Raiders voided the $29.125 million worth of guaranteed money in his deal, per league sources. This could help explain why Brown is now asking the Raiders for his release.

Jeff Darlington @JeffDarlington

I just got an email from Antonio Brown. He tells me the team “took away my guarantees.” He added there’s “no way I play after they took that and made my contract week to week.” So at this moment, once again, don’t expect AB to play on Monday Night Football.

That was the last straw for Brown, who took to Instagram to request his release Saturday. The Raiders acquiesced, ending the long-running saga. 

For the Raiders, who gave up a third- and fifth-round pick to acquire Brown, it cost them their most dynamic offensive player before he played a snap. For Brown, now an unrestricted free agent, it calls into question which team will take on his baggage, though given his immense talent and ability, it's hard to imagine he'll be without a team for long.