It's been more than four months since the Oakland Raiders parted ways with Antonio Brown, but general manager Mike Mayock is not over the fallout from the situation—particularly his team's loss of draft picks.
He told Vic Tafur of The Athletic:
"I put that on me. My anticipation was that he was coming off a situation in Pittsburgh where he wants to prove everybody wrong and he wants to ride into the Hall of Fame. That he was going to come in with Jon Gruden and Derek Carr and our offense and lead the way. … I really thought we were going to get the best out of Antonio Brown and we didn't.
"We weren't able to get anything out of him. So, at the end of the day, in hindsight, we lost a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick, and I can't tell you how much pain that causes me."
At the time, a third and a fifth seemed like a steal for a player many believed was the best receiver in football. Brown's time with the Raiders was instead fraught from the start, first by accidental frostbite in his feet, then by his displeasure with new NFL helmet rules, and finally by a final argument with Mayock that ultimately sealed his fate.
The Raiders released Brown at his request, and he signed with the New England Patriots, playing one game before being cut amid allegations of sexual assault (including one instance of rape) in a federal lawsuit filed by a former trainer, Britney Taylor, and allegations of sexual misconduct from another woman who in 2017 was hired to paint a mural in Brown's home. Brown also allegedly sent threatening text messages to the latter woman following the reporting of her accusations, per Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated.
The NFL has been investigating those claims since September. The New Orleans Saints are the only team to give Brown a workout during that timeframe.
While it was clear Brown would not be a quiet locker room presence given his public falling out in Pittsburgh, no one could have seen the level to which his off-field conduct has spiraled. Mayock giving up two mid-round picks for Brown could be seen as a mistake in hindsight, but it looked like a home run when the trade went down.
It was a low-risk, high-reward proposition; picks in the third and fifth round can be recouped. Players of Brown's caliber are once or twice in a generation. He was coming off his sixth straight 100-reception season, an NFL record, still has years left in his physical prime and was coming at a minimal cost. The Browns gave up first- and third-round picks, along with safety Jabrill Peppers and guard Kevin Zeitler, for Odell Beckham in a similar trade last offseason.
The Raiders may think twice about taking similar character risks in the future, but it's hard to find fault in their logic.