The Raiders’ tolerance of Antonio Brown took on a level of self-degradation days ago. So when the team announced on Saturday that it was releasing the wide receiver, out with Brown is not just the third- and fifth-round picks that were handed over to the Steelers in the trade for him, but also some of the team leaders’ credibility—the ownership, the front office, the team captains who on Friday reportedly stood by Brown (literally) during his apology to teammates and, of course, head coach Jon Gruden, whom many believe gave Brown the steady supply of extra lives that prolonged his mission of destruction.
The only way Gruden’s love for Brown The Player could overcome his presumed exhaustion with Brown The Person for so long is if the head coach had major, MAJOR concerns about the rest of his receiving corps. Brown wasn’t just the Raiders’ best weapon—he was their only weapon, at least in terms of weapons you can fully scheme around. Without Brown, Oakland’s offensive formations have no starting place, which is a rare problem for a healthy offense to face entering the season.