Wide receiver Antonio Brown sparred with Oakland Raiders all summer. Now he’s heading to the New England Patriots. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Wide receiver Antonio Brown woke up Saturday as a member of the Oakland Raiders. By the end of the day he was a member of the New England Patriots.

Soon after being released in the morning – at his request – to end a tumultous tenure with the Raiders, Brown agreed to a one-year contract with New England.

The deal includes a $9 million signing bonus and could be worth as much as $15 million, according to a person familiar with the situation. He isn’t eligible to play in the Patriots’ season opener Sunday night at home against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Patriots had a need at wide receiver and had in the past shown an interest in troubled and controversial players, believing the authority of Coach Bill Belichick and influence of quarterback Tom Brady would keep such players in check. Now they will take a chance on Brown.

Brown generated plenty of controversy with the Raiders after being obtained in an offseason trade with the Steelers. But he ended up not playing a regular-season game for the team.

“We just have exhausted everything,” Coach Jon Gruden said. “We tried every way possible to make it work. All I’m going to 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 am very proud of what we did as an organization to try. And I wish Antonio nothing but the best. I’m sorry that we never got a chance to see him in silver and black. (It’s) very disappointing in my career as a coach. I really looked forward to coaching him. But it’s not going to happen, and we’re not going to sit here and talk about it all day.”

Brown became a free agent and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, went immediately to work to find a new team for the seven-time Pro Bowl selection.

Brown wrote later Saturday on Twitter: “The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth(.)”

Gruden had said Friday that he planned for Brown to play Monday night against the Broncos, as the team opted not to suspend or, at that point, release Brown for a midweek practice-field incident with General Manager Mike Mayock. But the Raiders also fined Brown more than $215,000 for that incident and informed him that they intended to revoke the guarantee of more than $29 million in his contract, drawing Brown’s ire and leading to his Instagram post imploring the team to cut ties with him.

Brown ended that post by telling the Raiders to “Release me,” followed by “#NOMore.”

Brown arrives in New England after asking his last two teams to let him depart. His growing discontent in Pittsburgh, tied in part to a clash with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, led to the Steelers accommodating his trade request.

In March, the Raiders dealt a third- and fifth-round draft pick to the Steelers for Brown, hoping he could be the centerpiece of an on-field revival in the second season of Gruden’s return to coaching after leaving ESPN.

“It’s unfortunate for the Raiders and for us that it didn’t work out. … So it’s time to move on,” Rosenhaus told the NFL Network.

After the trade, Brown signed a three-year, $50.1 million contract with the Raiders. The deal contained $30.1 million guaranteed, $1 million of which was tied to a bonus and the remaining $29.1 million of which was tied to his salaries of $14.625 million for this season and $14.5 million for the 2020 season.

The contract language gave the Raiders, in their view, the ability under NFL rules to void the guarantee of the remaining $29.1 million, making those salaries nonguaranteed, based on misconduct by Brown. The Raiders informed Brown that they were exercising that right to revoke the guarantees of the $29.1 million, according to a person familiar with the case.

The fine for Wednesday’s incident with Mayock was not the team’s first disciplinary action against Brown. The team previously notified Brown that he was being fined nearly $54,000 for missing a walk-through and a day of training camp last month.

Under normal conditions, Brown’s $14.625 million salary for the 2019 season would have become guaranteed, in effect, if he’d been on the Raiders’ roster Monday, given the sport’s system for termination pay. Brown could opt to collect his full salary upon being released, under that system. But the Raiders informed Brown it’s their contention that Brown would not be entitled to such termination pay of his full 2019 salary. That would become a point of contention if the NFLPA were to file a grievance on Brown’s behalf.

The Raiders fined Brown $215,073.53 for Wednesday’s incident with Mayock. That’s one-quarter of the $860,294.12 – one game check for Brown amounting to one-seventeenth of his 2019 salary – that the Raiders could have fined Brown for conduct detrimental to the team, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFLPA. Brown could appeal his fine through the union if it’s not rescinded as part of his release.

Gruden said Saturday that Brown is “a good guy” but “misunderstood.”

“I was very hopeful about what he could bring here,” Gruden said. “Unfortunately it’s not going to happen. And I’ll tell you, he’s a good guy. He’s misunderstood by a lot of people. But he is a good guy. He’s a great player. And I hope he gets what he’s looking for.”

Gruden pointed to “a series of things” that severed the relationship between Brown and the Raiders.

“It didn’t work,” Gruden said. “It didn’t fit here. Right now he would have to answer that for himself. And I’m sure he will. Again, I wish him the best. And I’m sorry to the Raider fans.”

The Raiders chose not to suspend Brown for conduct detrimental to the team. Under the CBA, a team can suspend a player as many as four games without pay for such conduct. But when Brown returned to practice Friday after being told to stay home Thursday, Gruden told reporters that the plan was for Brown to play Monday night.

Brown apologized to Raiders players in a team meeting Friday and later said during a brief meeting with reporters: “I’m excited to be out here today. I apologized to my teammates (and) the organization. Enough talk, man. I’m excited to be out here with my teammates. I’m grateful for all the fans. I’m excited to be a part of the Raiders and see you guys soon.”

Later Friday, Brown released a YouTube video containing, it appeared, a phone conversation he had with Gruden. In the conversation, Gruden asked Brown if he wanted to be a Raider and Brown replied that the issue was whether the team wanted him to be a Raider. Gruden told Brown to cease his off-field antics and just play.


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