Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made it known on Friday that three other NFL teams have already called him to inquire about possibly trading for wide receiver Antonio Brown. While Colbert didn’t name the teams that have called to inquire about Brown to close out last week, one must wonder if the Oakland Raiders were one of them and especially with their head coach Jon Gruden stating during a Friday interview with J.T. the Brick on “The Game Plan” podcast on the Raiders Podcast Network that any of his team’s three first-round selections in this year’s draft could be traded.
“I think there’s a lot of potential for trades,” Gruden said on Friday when asked asked if any of the Raiders late-round picks could be in play to be dealt ahead of this year’s draft. “I think that’s one of the things I’m really excited about. [New Raiders general manager] Mike Mayock, what he brings to the table, he’s got great resources around the NFL. He’s been in every building, he’s on a first-name basis; everybody knows Mike. And I think he’s gonna be on the phones quite a bit, not only with those two picks you talked about, who knows, we may move up with the No. 4 pick, we may move back with that pick. We’ll see how it all unfolds.”
Currently, the Raiders own the 4th, 24th and 27th overall picks in the first round of the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft and if that’s not enough, Oakland also still owns the third overall selection in the second-round and the second overall pick in the third-round. That equates to them owning five of the first 66 selections in this year’s draft and thus it’s highly likely that a few of those are dealt away.
The Raiders could also obviously stand to acquire an experienced and game-changing wide receiver such as Brown this offseason as their current depth chart at the position only includes a few players with a lot of experience and they are Jordy Nelson, Seth Roberts and Dwayne Harris. Harris, by the way, is more of a special teams player and he’ll turn 32 in September. As for Nelson, he’ll turn 34 in May. In short, the Raiders could certainly use a player such as Brown in addition to them drafting another one or two wide receivers this year.
The Steelers and Raiders have also recently done business with each other as well. In fact, the two teams dealt wide receivers to each other in 2018 as the Steelers traded Martavis Bryant to the Raiders during last year’s draft and Oakland later sent Ryan Switzer to Pittsburgh in late August. Gruden and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin also have a history with one another as well as the latter was on the former’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff for four seasons from 2002-2005.
Not that it means too much in the grande scheme of things, but Raiders new general manager Mike Mayock was spotted talking to both Colbert and Tomlin during practices at this year’s Senior Bowl in late January.
Also important is the fact that the Raiders can easily afford Brown from a salary cap perspective as they reportedly are currently around $70 million under the projected 2019 NFL salary cap number. Additionally, they should be able to afford to sign Brown to a new contract should he demand one from the Raiders if they were to trade for him.
With the annual scouting combine set to get underway next week in Indianapolis, it’s not hard to imagine the Raiders and Steelers talking more about a potential trade that includes Brown during that span of days. That said, the Steelers don’t have to be in a hurry to deal Brown right away as the start of the new league year is still a little less than four weeks away. Brown can’t officially be traded until the start of the new league year per NFL rules. That noted, the wide receiver is due a $2.5 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the new league year and thus the Steelers would probably like to have another team on the hook for that amount.
In closing, if NFL fans and analysts around the world were asked to list three teams likely to trade for Brown in the coming weeks, there’s a good chance the Raiders would make a high percentage of those for all of the reasons listed above. Now we’ll have to sit back and wait and see if that’s the team that’s ultimately the one to deal for him.