The story that seemingly couldn't become any crazier finally has done exactly that.
Brown drove the organization crazy with his feet (which were damaged in a cryotherapy chamber), his head (he filed two grievances with the league in the hopes of securing a helmet to his liking) and his temperamental nature (he most recently squabbled with general manager Mike Mayock).
Even after all that, there were reports that head coach Jon Gruden was still interested in having Brown suit up for the team's season opener against Denver on Monday night.
Now we know Gruden and Mayock finally reached their breaking points. There is still much left to work out -- the Raiders claim they no longer owe Brown the $30 million his contract guaranteed, which will surely lead to an ugly legal battle with the NFL Players Association -- and the biggest question currently relates to Brown's future as an unrestricted free agent. Is there really a team out there that will jump on him after all the drama he's created? Remember, this is a man who has ticked off two franchises over the last 10 months and couldn't find a way to act right after receiving another fat contract.
The odds are that Brown will have a tough time finding eager suitors. That doesn't mean some teams won't think about how his failure in Oakland couldn't benefit them. Even at 31 years old, Brown is still considered one of the best wide receivers in the league when he's focused. This also is a league where the only people who receive second (and third chances) are the ones who know how to ball out.
So here are five teams who should be thinking hard about the risks and rewards of adding Brown to their roster:
New England Patriots: You knew this was coming. On the surface, it doesn't seem like Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would have much interest in a diva who's been as corrosive as Brown has been of late. However, Belichick did acquire Chad Johnson after the Cincinnati Bengals tired of his antics. Belichick also had success with another famed Bengals headache (running back Corey Dillon) and he's been betting on wide receiver Josh Gordon (who's still battling addiction problems) for nearly a year now. Maybe Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have enough clout that Brown will respect them and conform. The Patriots already are figuring out what life will be like without Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski. Having a committed Antonio Brown on the roster would make that transition a whole lot smoother.
Houston Texans:Texans head coach Bill O'Brien already has been wheeling and dealing as the team's de facto general manager, as he's dealt outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle and approved a trade for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills that sent two first-round picks and a second-round selection to Miami in return. O'Brien might as well keep rolling with a move that really wouldn't cost him much. Quarterback Deshaun Watson would benefit from another target. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins could use the help, as well. There isn't a wide receiver in the league who's been as productive without having another wideout to help ease the pressure from opposing defenses. Brown already follows the Texans on Instagram. He also may be thinking about a new home in Houston.
Seattle Seahawks: Head coach Pete Carroll is the first reason to think about the Seahawks courting Brown. Carroll doesn't have to worry about job security, and he has a history of successfully managing big personalities. OK, so things don't go so well with Percy Harvin. That doesn't mean Carroll will turn gun shy when it comes to pursuing another player with a boatload of baggage. What Carroll also has to think about is his current receiver situation. Doug Baldwin is gone. Tyler Lockett is the most accomplished threat. After that, the Seahawks have a bunch of guys with plenty to prove. It might not help that Seattle is back to being a run-heavy team. However, Brown could make life much easier for Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson when it's time to throw.
New Orleans Saints: Like Carroll, Saints head coach Sean Payton is playing with house money in New Orleans. Nobody is going to second-guess any move he makes, even if it involves a receiver with as many issues as Brown brings to the table right now. Payton knows quarterback Drew Brees commands respect from anybody who enters that organization. The head coach also realizes all the work that has gone into feeding the ball to Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas over the last couple years. Injuries plagued the Saints receivers in 2018 and Thomas still found a way to catch 125 balls. The next closest receiver, in terms of receptions? Tre'Quan Smith, with 28 catches. Look, we all know Payton is going to find a way to generate points. Just imagine how electric that offense would be with two elite receivers running wild.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: This is the lone wild card in the bunch. If Brown isn't going to land with an established contender, his next best option would be playing for a coach who knows him. Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is that dude. He was the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator during Brown's first two years with that franchise. Arians remembers the unknown kid who came into the league as a sixth-round pick and first had to make his name as a return specialist. That history could help Brown trust Arians, which is a critical factor in whatever future Brown hopes to have in the league. Whomever takes him next will need some foundation from which to start a relationship. Arians could play that card if Tampa wanted to make this move. The Bucs also traded DeSean Jackson to the Eagles during the offseason. Tampa is hoping a promising, young player like Chris Godwin can fill that void, but Brown might be an attractive option as well. Keep in mind, quarterback Jameis Winston needs as much help as he can get if he wants to turn around his own career. It wouldn't hurt to have Brown, a Miami native, back in his home state.