Antonio Brown's erratic final week with the Raiders reportedly was all part of the plan.
The New England Patriots wide receiver turned to "social-media consultants" to "accelerate his release from the Raiders," ESPN's Chris Mortensen said on this week's episode of "Sunday NFL Countdown."
"And this all started with him releasing the letter from [general manager] Mike Mayock that he was getting fined," Mortensen said. "[Brown] put that on social media, which led to the confrontation."
The Raiders fined Brown this week for missing a practice and a walk-through, and Brown angrily confronted Mayock on Wednesday, threatening to punch the general manager. Brown returned to practice Friday, delivering an apology that his former teammates considered sincere. Oakland fined Brown $215,073.53 and voided $29.125 million in contract guarantees, prompting Brown to ask for his release.
Mortensen said that Brown's leaguewide interest was legitimate, citing the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns as suitors. But, he added, that Brown's eventual destination -- New England -- was "fait accompli" Saturday morning.
Although Mortensen's reporting provides an explanation for Brown's bizarre end to his brief Raiders tenure, it also invites plenty of questions.
When did Brown change his mind? How long was he angling for his release? The four-time All-Pro spoke of his long-term commitment to the Silver and Black at his introductory press conference, and made a point of sharing his bromance with Derek Carr on social media throughout the offseason. At what point did that turn?
Brown tweeted Saturday that "[the] child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth,” indicating that he didn't feel entirely supported by the Raiders. The team stood by him through frostbitten feet and a prolonged helmet saga, but it's clear something fractured Brown's relationship with the team.
If Brown's short stint with the Raiders is any indication, we'll know the answer sooner rather than later.