Derek Carr has thrown the ball to his fair share of Pro Bowlers since 2014, no doubt about that.
Since becoming the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, Carr enjoyed the benefit of back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons from Amari Cooper, a season that should have resulted in a Pro Bowl nod for Michael Crabtree, and most recently a six-touchdown campaign from Jared Cook – all impressive playmakers no doubt.
But, to be fair, none of those guys are Antonio Brown.
Let’s put how productive the Raiders newest wide receiver has been throughout his career in perspective, shall we?
Statistically speaking, the best year a wide receiver has put up since DC arrived in Oakland was Amari Cooper in 2016, when the Pro Bowl wideout hauled in 83 catches for 1,153 yards – a great season, no doubt.
Let’s remember that number – 1,153 – for just a second though.
Antonio Brown has eclipsed that number the past six seasons.
Now, there are certainly myriad reasons for why Brown’s stats dwarf any Raider since 2014, but the fact remains, Mr. Big Chest is an elite talent, and his presence in Silver and Black is set to be a complete game changer for Carr.
“His body of work is not only impressive, it’s fun to watch,” said Head Coach Gruden during Brown’s introductory press conference. “He’s electrifying after the catch. He’s a great competitor. He wins the 50/50 ball. He’s outstanding in short areas. You have a great imagination as a football coach, when you coach a man like this. He can play split end. He can play flanker. He can play in the slot. He can return punts, and sell popcorn at halftime. We’re excited about this guy, and we’re going to put him to good work.”
“You have one of the best playmakers out there in the game of football [who’s] now a Raider, and they kept all three first-round picks, so I think it was a huge move for the Raiders,” added Bruce Gradkowski who in addition to being a former quarterback for the Raiders was also teammates with Brown in Pittsburgh. “I’m excited for AB. A fresh start, and I think it’ll be good for him.”
Brown joins the Silver and Black after nine – simply put – outstanding seasons in Pittsburgh, and in addition to the presence of Coach Gruden, Derek Carr entrenched as the team’s signal-caller also played a big role in No. 84 ultimately deciding to green light a trade to the East Bay.
“I think he’s a young, hungry player,” Brown said of Carr. “He works at it. He wants to be great, and I think he’s at a point where he’s ready to take this thing to the next level.”
He added, “I think he’s hungry for success, hungry for turning the organization around, hungry to get on the winning side of things, and I’m just hungry for the same things, so I think we stand for the same causes, God fearing men, family first type people.”
With seven Pro Bowl appearances, and four All-Pro nods under his belt already, Brown has nothing left to prove. His spot as an elite wide receiver is cemented, and when all is said and done, Brown will likely have a bust in Canton in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but even so, he still has lofty goals he wants to accomplish.
Exclusive photos of Antonio Brown's first day at Raiders Headquarters in Alameda, Calif.
“My goal really is to catch Jerry Rice,” Brown said. “Playing with a guy like Coach Gruden, obviously he knows what it takes to keep me upright and fresh, and keep me out there for a long time, so my challenge every year is to prove my love for the game, and I’m taking it one year at a time. Obviously, my goal in the back of my mind is to catch Jerry Rice, and every year I have to prove my love, so this year I’m out here to prove my love, and what I can do, and I what I can be, nothing in the NFL is ever guaranteed or set in stone, so I know these guy believe in me, but it’s a lot for me to prove, so ‘m here to prove who I am, and what I stand for, not just my words, but my actions, and hopefully you guys will see what I’m about.”
That’s a lofty goal, no doubt, but if anyone has a realistic shot at accomplishing that feat, it’s Brown.
Because as we said earlier, while Derek Carr has thrown to a plethora of quality wideouts, he’s never thrown to a guy quite like Antonio Brown.