When the Oakland Raiders released wide receiver Antonio Brown on Saturday morning, they did so without having to pay him a single dollar from his three-year, $50.125 million deal. He missed too many workouts to earn the $1 million signing bonus and saw his $30 million guaranteed taken away due to "conduct detrimental to the team." In theory, this parting of ways worked out well for the Silver Black, but the former wide receiver still managed to cost them money.
As viewers of HBO's Hard Knocks know, coach Jon Gruden had a very talented rookie on the team in the form of wide receiver Keelan Doss. The undrafted free agent from UC Davis signed with his hometown team following the 2019 NFL Draft and impressed mightily during training camp. However, he was later released during final roster cuts, partially due to the presence of Brown.
Well, the release on Saturday meant that the Raiders suddenly had an open spot on the roster and a need for a new wide receiver. Unfortunately, Doss was spending his days as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad. The Raiders attempted to sign him back, but Doss remained in Duval County with the promise of his salary increasing to the rookie minimum $495,000.
Undeterred, the Raiders pressed on. General manager Mike Mayock and Gruden made a second attempt to re-sign Doss, offering the full salary of $495,000, as well as a signing bonus of $300,000. This was a bold strategy considering that practice squad players will earn a minimum salary of $8,000 per week, which would equal $136,000 for the entire season. Ultimately, it paid off, and Doss is back in the building.
Welcome back to the Silver and Black, 89. pic.twitter.com/0QwJQ2OVJS— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) September 9, 2019
So how does this pertain to Antonio Brown? Essentially, his presence on the roster during training camp contributed to Doss being cut. The Raiders wanted to keep the youngster, especially after beating out 13 other teams for his services, but there was no room. Upon his release, Brown left a hole on the roster that needed to be filled by another capable wide receiver. To achieve this goal, they had to offer Doss far more money than expected. Fortunately, the Raiders had $30 million in extra cash lying around.
While forcing the Raiders to pay extra for a rookie wide receiver may not have been Brown's ultimate goal when he forced his way out of town, it certainly won't hurt to know that he caused one more headache after landing with the Patriots. For the Raiders, however, the price paid may ultimately become less important if Doss plays a major role in the offense. Quarterback Derek Carr has high hopes for the youngster after working with him during the offseason.
"Yeah, I think Keelan will be a good player, " Carr said during Organized Team Activities. "Obviously, he's a rookie. He has a long way to go, but just watching him, you can tell he works his tail off and it means something to him. We've had other guys come in here--I've seen undrafted free agents all the time come in here--and they're just like, 'man, I'm in the NFL.' They're posting pictures of them jogging in a jersey and things like that. They don't really like football. They don't really care. They're just trying to, I guess, show that they have a little bit of influence, show that they're a professional football player when really they haven't made the team yet. They're not.
"He [Keelan] is not that at all. He doesn't want this to be a one-time stop. He wants to make a career out of this. And hopefully, he works his tail off, and he does make a career out of it, but that's just the initial reaction I've gotten from him. It means something to him, and you can win with that."
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