The Oakland Raiders officially announced their acquisition of wide receiver Antonio Brown from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday, shortly after the new league year opened at 4 p.m. ET. "In my opinion, we acquired the best wide receiver in football," head coach Jon Gruden said at Brown's welcome press conference. "Now, let's get to work."
"I am so excited to sit down next to Antonio Brown," first-year general manager Mike Mayock added. "...He's as good a practice football player and works as hard as any football player I've ever seen in my life." Brown, who was a few minutes late, showed up looking much different than the public has seen him much of the offseason, with his hair cut short and his blonde mustache gone. He voiced lofty goals for his future, saying he hopes to catch Jerry Rice in terms of longevity.
"It's an honor to be here," Brown said. "...I'm here to prove what I am and what I stand for, not just my words but my actions." Brown, 30, was acquired for third-round (66th overall) and fifth-round (141st overall) draft picks, and he received a new three-year, $50.125 million contract with $30.125 million guaranteed as part of the agreement. The Steelers were believed to be close to a deal with the Buffalo Bills late Thursday, but Buffalo backed out after learning that Brown desired a contract adjustment. The deal with the Raiders was reportedly reached in the early hours of Sunday.
"We weren't even in on the process until Friday," Mayock said of how the Raiders jumped into trade discussions late. "...When that deal fell through with Buffalo, we got involved." Asked if he has any regrets about his acrimonious departure from Pittsburgh -- where he spent the first nine years of his career, earning seven Pro Bowl appearances and four first-team All-Pro nods -- Brown said he appreciated his time with the Steelers.
"Pittsburgh will always be my family," he said. "Those guys gave me a chance when I was a 21-year-old kid. Obviously people listen to the things that are being said and written, but at the end of the day, it's all about how you make people feel. "I think I make people feel really great and really inspired, the way they watched me go to work, the way they watched me play. I know Steeler nation is having a bad day today, but it's always love."
As for the Steelers themselves, general manager Kevin Colbert acknowledged that while Brown remains great, his departure was what the team needed. "We believe the compensation, which will now give us four picks in the first 83 selections and 10 overall in the upcoming NFL draft, can benefit our efforts to improve our team in 2019 and beyond," Colbert said in a statement. "Antonio remains one of the best players in the National Football League, but as we believe, this move was in the best interest of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We wish Antonio all the best the rest of his career."
(With inputs from agencies.)