NFL free agency marks the start of new beginnings for several players and teams alike. The big splashes coming from the Bay Area this week serve as a perfect illustration.
On Wednesday, All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown was formally introduced as a member of the Oakland Raiders. The 30-year-old Brown, who spent nine seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was acquired in exchange for a third- and fifth-round draft pick.
Brown will instantly become the centerpiece of Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s offense.
“We don’t want to have a good receiving corps,” Gruden said. “I want to have the best receiving corps in football, and I think to have the best you got to have the best. In my opinion, I think we acquired the best wide receiver in football.”
Oakland’s quest to improve the receiving group continued Wednesday when it signed former Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams. In four seasons with the Bolts, Williams caught 155 passes for 2,530 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 15.9 yards per reception in 2018 was good for 11th in the NFL.
The arrivals Brown and Williams led to the team releasing Jordy Nelson on Thursday.
The Raiders didn’t just shop for wideouts. Former Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown received a multi-year deal from the team. Former Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner was also signed to further bolster the secondary.
Safety Swap in KC – The Kansas City Chiefs signed safety Tyrann Mathieu, the team announced Thursday.
Saying hello to one All-Pro safety, though, meant bidding farewell to another. After nine seasons, five Pro Bowl appearances and three All-Pro selections, Eric Berry was released on Wednesday. He leaves the Chiefs with 448 tackles, 14 interceptions and five defensive touchdowns in 89 career games.
The defensive makeover in Kansas City continued this week when the team traded Pro Bowl defensive end Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a draft pick in 2020. Former Cowboys linebacker Damien Wilson was also signed Thursday. He started 22 games the last three seasons.
The team announced the release of long-time defensive end Justin Houston last Sunday. One of his replacements will be Alex Okafor, who, according to reports, has agreed to join the Chiefs. Okafor started 16 games last season for the New Orleans Saints.
Key departures for Kansas City include cornerback Steven Nelson, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last year’s starting center Mitch Morse signed with the Buffalo Bills.
Flacco Finally Official in Denver – What has been widely reported for several weeks became a reality Wednesday: Joe Flacco is the new starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos.
Flacco was acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round draft pick. He compiled a 96-67 regular-season record in Baltimore and was the MVP of Super Bowl XLVII. The Broncos completed the change under center by trading Case Keenum to the Washington Redskins.
To protect Flacco, the team signed offensive tackle Ju’Waun James away from the Miami Dolphins. However, they lost center Matt Paradis to the Carolina Panthers.
On defense, former Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson signed a three-year deal with the team. He replaces Bradley Roby, who will take Jackson’s place in Houston.