New England Patriots

Wide receiver Antonio Brown of the Oakland Raiders reacts on the sidelines during the first half of the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on August 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Did Antonio Brown just desperately want out of Oakland?

The superstar wide receiver’s behavior with the Raiders was nothing short of outrageous, arriving to training camp in a hot air balloon being the least of it. He filed formal complaints about his helmet, insulted and threatened his GM, secretly recorded his head coach, and fired off a number of defiant social media posts along the way. The chaos brought speculation as to Brown’s mental well-being.

Apparently, it could have all just been part of an elaborate plan to do all he could to force his way out of Oakland. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported on Saturday that multiple NFL teams believe Brown “wanted to be a Patriot all along,” and that he “might have just been doing anything possible” to get the Raiders to release him.

That culminated with him just straight-up demanding the Raiders to release him.

The one outlier in this whole saga is that Brown severely injured his feet with frostbite after he didn’t wear the required footwear in a cryogenic chamber. But Brown probably could have easily found a reason to blame the Raiders for that.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported on “Sunday NFL Countdown” that Brown consulted with social media experts on “how he could accelerate his release from the Raiders”. His first major social media controversy in Oakland came when he posted to his Instagram story a letter from Mayock, which read that the team had fined him for missing mandatory team activities.

Within hours of saying “Release me @raiders” as part of an Instagram post on Saturday, Oakland obliged. And within hours of that, Brown became a Patriot.

Regardless of Brown’s motives or the reasons for his behavior, the Patriots engender a lot of confidence that they can do a vastly better job keeping Brown in line than the Raiders ever could. But if Brown is a good soldier and a perfect Patriot from here on out? It would be a massive win for the football operation. But it would reveal Brown’s wild antics as one big, fraudulent put-on.

Either way, the four-time All-Pro receiver has been rewarded handsomely for what he did in Oakland. For Bill Belichick, the hope is that Brown rewards his faith with another All-Pro effort and a seventh Lombardi Trophy.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.