Brown saga ends as Raiders prepare for Broncos

Antonio Brown's arrival in Oakland was supposed to represent a recharging of the offense. Instead, it was nothing but a headache.

The "plan" was for Brown to play in Monday's season opener against the visiting Denver Broncos. Instead, Brown was released by the Raiders on Saturday and then agreed on a deal with the New England Patriots later in the day.

Brown's antics in Oakland included a near-physical altercation with general manager Mike Mayock on Wednesday, and nearly led to a suspension. Then on Friday, Brown opened a team meeting with an "emotional apology," and coach Jon Gruden welcomed him back and hopes to have him on the field against Denver.

"Antonio's back today. We're really excited about that," Gruden told reporters. "Ready to move on. He's had a lot of time to think about things. We're happy to have him back and I know Raider Nation is excited about that too."

Less than 24 hours later, Brown was released -- a move he requested -- and agreed to sign with the Patriots.

Brown, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, wore out his welcome with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it seemed to be a worthy move when Oakland acquired him in March for third- and fifth-round picks. The Raiders later signed Brown to a three-year, $50.125 million deal.

But training camp was filled with drama, ranging from the cryotherapy treatment that caused frostbite on his feet, to Brown losing two grievances against the NFL in a battle to wear a helmet ruled to be outdated, to $53,950 in fines for skipping a practice ($40,000) and a walkthrough ($13,950).

Brown ratcheted up the tension by posting a letter from Mayock about the fines on his Instagram account on Wednesday. Then came the furious exchange of words, a day before he was listed as a non-participant -- per the team, "not injury related - conduct" -- for practice.

Now, the Raiders are moving on from Brown as they attempt to rebound from a 4-12 mark.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr passed for a career-high 4,039 yards last season but had a career-low 19 touchdowns.

Denver will be unveiling a new quarterback in Joe Flacco, who was acquired in the offseason from the Baltimore Ravens.

The 34-year-old figures to be an upgrade over the likes of recent signal-callers such as Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Case Keenum and has quickly ingratiated himself with stellar receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

"Flacco's a baller," Sanders told reporters. "Probably one of my favorite quarterbacks of all time, him and Peyton (Manning). They're close. I'm looking forward to going on Sundays and competing with him because I know what type of guy he is."

Flacco started 163 regular-season games over 11 seasons with the Ravens while passing for 38,245 yards and 212 touchdowns. He also was Super Bowl MVP in the big game following the 2012 season when he passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Now Flacco is charged with getting Denver back to the postseason after missing the stage in three straight seasons. In fact, the Broncos were just 11-21 over the past two campaigns, posting back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1971-72.

"The goal is that 17 weeks from now, we're still preparing for games," Flacco said.

The Broncos have a new head coach in Vic Fangio -- who was on the losing side of Flacco's Super Bowl triumph -- but the same old stars on the defensive side in linebacker Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris.

Miller has 98 career sacks in eight seasons, and Harris has 19 career interceptions in eight campaigns.

--Field Level Media