Antonio Brown really wanted out of Oakland. So much so that he reportedly contacted social media experts to ask how he could orchestrate and expedite getting cut by the Raiders.
"Brown, during the week, actually sought advice from social media consultants on how he could accelerate his release from the Raiders," ESPN's Chris Mortensen said on Sunday NFL Countdown. "This all started with him releasing the letter from Mike Mayock that he was being fined. He put that out on social media, which led to the confrontation."
Mortensen isn't the only NFL reporter to suggest that Brown's endgame was leaving Oakland. Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported Saturday that Brown's plan may have been to get released by the Raiders and sign with the New England Patriots, as he ultimately ended up doing:
"There are teams around the NFL that believe Brown wanted to be a Patriot all along, and Brown might have just been doing anything possible to propel himself out of Oakland. This theory was presented to The Athletic on Saturday before the Raiders' release of Brown and not with cynicism or even anger as much as it was just an acceptance of what was to come.
"It would add up. There were reports in March that the Patriots inquired about Brown's availability prior to the Steelers' trade with the Raiders. It would be understandable if the Steelers didn't want to trade one of the league's most talented players up north to the Super Bowl champs, who are also 11-3 against the Steelers with Tom Brady starting."
It would certainly explain some of the drama Brown created over the summer:
It would also clear up why Brown decided to post the fine letter he received on social media, or why he taped a phone call with head coach Jon Gruden and shared it on YouTube.
Whatever the case may be, the Patriots now have one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in football, and while questions persist about whether Brown will be a distraction in New England, the upside of his pairing with Tom Brady is immense.
Brady utilizing weapons like Brown, Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, James White and Sony Michel is the sort of scenario that keeps defensive coordinators up at night. Now it's a reality.
The Raiders, meanwhile, traded third- and fifth-round picks for Brown and got one drama-filled summer out of the deal. There's no other way to frame it—it was a huge miss by Oakland's front office, and you don't need a social media expert to tell you it cast the start of the Raiders season in a negative light.