The Oakland Raiders had a rough season in 2018, dropping to the bottom of what turned out to be a loaded AFC West. But they look like they are serious about turning things around quickly, as evidenced by the decision to trade for superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown. And with the acquisition of the 30-year-old, the Raiders have already given themselves a better chance at success in 2019.
It should go without saying that the Antonio Brown trade improves Raiders odds to win the Super Bowl. After all, with how bad the team was last year, there isn’t really anywhere to go but up. But the Raiders now have a top-tier wide receiver that they hope can make quarterback Derek Carr into the player they thought he was going to be when they first drafted him.
So far, Carr and Brown appear to be developing a nice rapport with one another, with Brown showing up to Carr’s family events and showing some real effort to get along with his new teammate. Whether or not that will last remains to be seen, but it is definitely a good start from a player who has been criticized for his attitude in the past.
Personality concerns aside, Brown is clearly one of the best players in the league at any position, and may not have any competition as the best wide receiver in the sport. Compared to last year’s lackluster receiving corps that was led by the oft-injured Jordy Nelson, the Raiders should be much more explosive down the field than they were a year ago.
Of course, the Raiders aren’t all of a sudden a favorite to win the Super Bowl. They still face sizeable odds to get to the championship, thanks in large part to just how good the rest of their division is. The AFC West features two elite teams in the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, along with a Denver Broncos team that now has former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco at quarterback. Antonio Brown should make the Raiders better, but better might not be enough against such strong division opponents.
Regardless of outcome in 2019, both the Raiders and Brown should be in a better place from a chemistry perspective going forward. Brown has mentioned that he is happy to be in Oakland, and understandably so, given the fraught relationship he had with his old quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And the Raiders should be able to move on from the Khalil Mack trade and other personnel moves that didn’t show a commitment to winning after the team traded to get Brown this offseason.
If Oakland can get Carr and Brown on the same page in a hurry in 2019, the Raiders should be able to get at least a wildcard spot in an NFC that should be tough to survive for even the best teams. And while there may be growing pains, the Raiders should at least be in for one of the most exciting 2019 seasons in the league.