The embattled football player, who has been at odds with general manager Mike Mayock all offseason, in part over a self-inflicted foot injury, posted a message on Instagram Saturday where he called on the Raiders to “release me.”
“You are gonna piss a lot of people off when you start doing what’s best for you,” a quote posted to Brown’s page read.
He shared the image with a caption that seemed to take aim at the organization after weeks of feuding, going so far as to tag the team.
“And that’s fine! I have worked my whole life to prove that the system is blind to see talent like mines,” he wrote. “Now that everyone sees it, they want me to conform to that same system that has failed me all those years. ‘I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong.’ Release me.”
Just hours later – the team did just that.
Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhause told NFL reporter Ian Rapoport immediately following that the wide receiver is now “a free agent.”
“We are focused on the future and I will immediately work on signing him to a new team.”
Brown's release seemed to stem from reports that he was fined $215,073.53 — a move by the team that essentially voided the guaranteed pay he was supposed to receive from his nearly $30 million contract.
Jeff Darlington, a reporter for ESPN, said he received an email Saturday from Brown who he stated that the team “took away my guarantees,” adding that there’s “no way I play.”
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) puts on his helmet prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
It’s not immediately clear what triggered the massive fine but Rapoport detailed an altercation between Brown and Mayock where he is said to have screamed at the GM, punted the ball and shouted “fine me for that.”
Brown’s appearance for the team’s first game of the season against the Denver Broncos had seemingly been in question until Friday when head coach Jon Gruden confirmed that he would be on the field.
Hours later however, the former Pittsburgh Steelers player — whose last season at the franchise was filled with internal drama before he was traded to the Raiders – posted a link to a YouTube where he appeared to record a conversation between himself and Gruden.
“What the hell is going on, man?” the voice appearing to be Gruden’s said. “Let me ask you this, do you want to be a Raider or not?”
Brown said he’s always wanted to play for the team “since day one," before redirecting the same question back to Gruden.
“Man, I’ve been trying to be a Raider since day one … I don't know why it's a question of me being a Raider. It’s like, do you guys want me to be Raider?” he said.
Gruden replied, “Please stop this s— and just play football. How hard is that? You’re a great football player, just play football.”
It is not immediately clear when the call took place. The video was posted to Brown’s Instagram Friday night.
Brown was fined earlier that day for missing several practices that the organization called “unexcused.”