How Raiders GM Mike Mayock fleeced Steelers to land Antonio Brown

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock did not blink.

Nor, apparently, did he budge.

As such, Mayock's baptism by fire as a real NFL general manager after nearly two decades as a TV GM was a resounding success.

The Raiders absolutely fleeced the Pittsburgh Steelers in the trade for seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown, a transaction that becomes official at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday with the start of the new league year, and Mayock was at the helm. Not only in surrendering only third- and fifth-round picks for a four-time first-team All-Pro, but in negotiating Brown's new contract.

"Mayock is a very, very talented general manager and he's a tough negotiator," Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told NFL Network, Mayock's previous employer. "Any chance you guys would take him back? He was a hard guy to strike a bargain with."

Rosenhaus laughed.

"He did a good job," he said of Mayock. "You guys would have thought he was a veteran general manager. This is my 31st year; you never would have known that this was his first year as a GM. He was very sharp and he was very professional, and it was good working with him. He actually worked on Antonio's deal with me."

Of course, Rosenhaus would be in a giddy mood. He got his client a raise on the remaining three years of his contract to the tune of $30.125 million guaranteed on a deal worth $50.125 million that can increase to $54.125 million with incentives.

On one hand, that's a lot of coin for a receiver who had become a distraction in Pittsburgh, will turn 31 on July 10 and gives Raiders fans bad memories of Randy Moss' unmotivated two-year stint in Oakland.

On the other hand, it simply is the price of doing business with a potential Hall of Fame player who is still one of the best receivers in the game, in his prime after leading the NFL with 15 touchdown catches last season and will be "a hungry and determined wide receiver to get back to his old ways of dominating," according to Moss, now an ESPN NFL analyst.

And don't forget Brown being a member of a mutual admiration society with Raiders coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr. Or how Brown, who has averaged 114 receptions for 1,524 yards and 11 touchdowns over the past six seasons, instantly upgrades the offense for a franchise that never had a player hit those marks in catches or receiving yards in a single season.

The key here, then, is in what Mayock & Co. did not give up in getting Brown.

In dealing third- and fifth-round picks to Pittsburgh, the Raiders kept all four of their picks in the top 35 of April's draft, despite several reports the Steelers would not trade Brown for anything less than a first-rounder.

And then Mayock, no doubt with assistance from Gruden and cap specialist Tom Delaney, not only got something back for a player the Raiders were looking at cutting, he improved his draft position and saved $10.2 million against the cap by agreeing to send Pro Bowl left guard Kelechi Osemele and Oakland's sixth-round pick to the New York Jets for their fifth-rounder.


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In essence, the Raiders jumped from No. 196 overall to No. 140 overall (the pick they sent to Pittsburgh for Brown was No. 141).

No doubt, the Raiders now have a gaping hole at left guard. The interior of the offensive line had been a strength. But they simply could move Gabe Jackson (referred to by Raiders owner Mark Davis as a "foundation piece") back to left guard and insert recently re-signed Denzelle Good at right guard -- or re-sign unrestricted free agent Jon Feliciano, who started four games in the injured Osemele's absence last season.

At the moment, Oakland is scheduled to have eight draft picks: Nos. 4, 24 (from Chicago in Khalil Mack trade) and 27 overall (from Dallas in Amari Cooper trade) in the first round; No. 35 overall in the second round; none in the third round (No. 66 overall sent to Pittsburgh in Brown trade); No. 106 overall in the fourth round; No. 140 overall (from Jets in Osemele trade) in the fifth round; none in the sixth round (No. 196 sent to Jets with Osemele); Nos. 218 and 235 (from Seattle in Shalom Luani trade) in the seventh round.

The deal for Brown is the one that will define the early days of Mayock's tenure -- with a nod to Gruden, who actually has final say on roster moves and once joked that any good moves would be made by him, and any bad ones would be attributed to, you guessed it, Mayock.

"Seemed to me to be a great fit for Antonio," Rosenhaus said of the Raiders on SportsCenter Sunday morning. "Jon Gruden, I believe, is a future Hall of Fame coach, and one of the great offensive minds in football. And the Raiders have a fantastic franchise quarterback in Derek Carr. They have a great tradition, great fan base.

"Moving to Las Vegas [in 2020], this is just a great fit for Antonio. He wanted a fresh start and certainly got a chance to go to a renowned franchise, one of the marquee franchises in the NFL, a historical team. I'm sure Al Davis would be very proud of this transaction."

As he might be of Mayock.