The biggest story during the Oakland Raiders’ opener will be a receiver who never played a snap for the Raiders.
What better way to sum up the Antonio Brown era with the Raiders? One of the craziest stories in NFL history ended Saturday morning when Brown asked the Raiders to release him, and the team finally obliged.
The Raiders have been more soap opera than football team lately thanks to Brown, but perhaps they can get back to the business of playing football when they take on the Denver Broncos in the second game of the “Monday Night Football” doubleheader. The annual doubleheader tradition for Week 1 also includes the Houston Texans at the New Orleans Saints, and both matchups can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports mobile app.
Brown is free to watch on the Yahoo Sports mobile app because he won’t be on the Raiders’ sideline.
Raiders begin the season without Antonio Brown
It’s not exactly easy for the Raiders to move on without Brown, which is why they desperately tried to make it work through the never-ending drama.
The Raiders went about their offseason believing they’d have one of the greatest receivers in NFL history as a centerpiece of their offense. As of Friday afternoon, they planned for him to be on the field against the Broncos on Monday night. It’s a major setback to release him two days before the season kicks off.
Tyrell Williams becomes the Raiders’ new No. 1 receiver, and he’s probably better suited as a big-play No. 2 option. Derek Carr, entering a key season in his career, now doesn’t have Brown as his top option. Other unproven players like rookie running back Josh Jacobs and tight end Darren Waller must play bigger roles. Jon Gruden, whose first season back in the NFL was awful, has a bigger challenge now that his most talented player is gone.
Brown’s release had a trickle-down effect for the entire Raiders organization. In the short term, they’re going to have a tough time Monday night against Vic Fangio’s Broncos defense that looked very good in its brief preseason appearance. If the Raiders assumed late on Friday that Brown would play, they had a game plan that likely featured him heavily. That all went out the window on Saturday morning.
But at least there is some closure. The circus has finally left Oakland.
Saints and Texans kick off ‘MNF’
Drew Brees’ rookie season started on Sept. 9, 2001, five days before Deshaun Watson’s 6th birthday.
Those two quarterbacks are the main reasons why the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans have Super Bowl dreams this season, though each team has dealt with much different adversity.
The Saints are trying to get over an infamous non-call in the NFC championship game against the Los Angeles Rams. While the rest of the NFL world has been ready to move on and is fatigued from the Saints’ complaints, it’s not so easy to get over that. New Orleans felt like it was robbed of a trip to the Super Bowl. And even though the roster is good again, there’s no guarantee they can get back to that stage. A lot needs to go right to reach a conference championship. Drew Brees’ late-season slump is a concern as well, as he enters his age-40 season.
The Texans have never been to a conference title game. It looked like they had a core of stars that could put them in a position to make a playoff run, but things got a little weird. Jadeveon Clowney, one of the team’s four elite stars, was traded for very little to the Seattle Seahawks. Then the Texans overpaid in a trade with Miami to get offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills. We’ll see at New Orleans how the Texans react to all that change.
It’s not crazy to think the first game Monday night features two Super Bowl contenders. There’s just some uncertainty surrounding both of them.
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