ALAMEDA, Calif. — Antonio Brown agreed to terms with the New England Patriots hours after the Oakland Raiders cut him, going from the NFL’s cellar to the defending Super Bowl champions on Saturday despite wearing out his welcome with two teams in one offseason.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed the agreement to The Associated Press. Brown had been scheduled to earn up to $50 million from Oakland over the three-year deal. Instead, the Patriots guaranteed him $9 million this season, with the potential to earn as much as $15 million.
Brown posted a picture of himself in a Patriots uniform on Instagram shortly after ESPN first reported the signing. The post was soon liked by New England receiver Julian Edelman, who already was splitting quarterback Tom Brady’s attention with one troublemaking receiver, Josh Gordon.
A Patriots spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
New England opens the season against the Steelers tonight, when they will raise their sixth Super Bowl championship banner. Brown is unlikely to play, but even his presence on the Patriots’ sideline adds a new wrinkle to his tumultuous tenure in Pittsburgh.
A four-time All-Pro who caught 837 passes over nine seasons with the Steelers, the team tired of Brown’s antics and traded him to Oakland in March. But he never made it onto the field in a Raiders uniform.
Instead of providing them with a marquee star in their final season in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas, Brown gave them months of headaches, from a bizarre foot injury to a fight over his helmet to the blowups this week that ended his career there before it began.
The Raiders granted the disgruntled but talented receiver his Saturday morning, two days before their season opener.
Falcons sign Jones to 3-year extension
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — One day before the season opener, Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones got his long-awaited contract extension Saturday, agreeing to a three-year, $66 million deal. The extension is nearly fully guaranteed when he signs. It locks in Jones through the 2023 season and removes a potentially major headache for the Falcons before today’s game at Minnesota.
Cowboys make room for Elliott, cut Morris
FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys have released running back Alfred Morris to make room on the roster for Ezekiel Elliott for today’s season opener against the New York Giants.
The move Saturday came three days after Elliott signed a $90 million, six-year extension to end the two-time rushing champion’s holdout, which lasted the entire preseason.
Morris joined the Cowboys early in training camp with Elliott missing. Two years ago, Morris was the primary replacement during Elliott’s six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.
Cubs’ Baez has hairline fracture in thumb
MILWAUKEE — Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez has a hairline fracture in his left thumb, putting the rest of his season in jeopardy.
An MRI in Chicago on Saturday revealed the extent of Báez’s injury, suffered when he slid headfirst into second base last Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. He’ll undergo further examination with a hand specialist on Monday. Báez, a two-time All-Star, had missed the previous four games, including the first two of a four-game series against the Brewers at Miller Park. He is hitting .281 with 29 home runs and 85 RBIs.
Harper taken out after hand injury
NEW YORK — Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper was held out of the lineup a night after taking a pitch off his right hand.
X-rays were negative and manager Gabe Kapler was confident there were no fractures in the hand after Harper was hit by a fastball from Mets starter Steven Matz. Kapler said Harper would get Saturday night off against New York as a “precautionary measure.”
Twins’ Pineda suspended 60 games
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Twins pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended for 60 games Saturday for taking a diuretic, a big blow to the rotation of a first-place team heading toward the postseason.
Major League Baseball said Pineda tested positive for the banned substance and the suspension takes effect immediately. Pineda, 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, said in a statement he took an over-the-counter medication given to him by an acquaintance to help manage his weight.
Busch holds off Allgaier in Xfinity
INDIANAPOLIS — Kyle Busch held off Justin Allgaier for the final four laps to win the NASCAR Xfinity race at Indianapolis by 0.132 seconds Saturday.
The victory was the 96th of Busch’s career, the most by any driver in series history. It also was Busch’s fourth win in Indy’s Xfinity race. He’s also a two-time Brickyard 400 winner.
Busch was sitting fourth on a restart with eight laps to go when the cars driven by Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick touched, sending the two leaders hard into the outside wall coming through the second turn on Indy’s 2.5-mile oval.
Duke probe finds no evidence linking Williamson to Nike
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University says an investigation has found no evidence that former basketball star Zion Williamson received improper benefits.
School spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said in a statement Saturday that a “thorough and objective” probe led by investigators outside the athletic department found “no evidence to support any allegation” that would have jeopardized Williamson’s eligibility.
Duke athletic director Kevin White, a Loras alum, said in April that the school would investigate after lawyer Michael Avenatti accused Nike Inc. of paying Williamson’s mother to persuade him to attend a college affiliated with the Beaverton, Oregon-based shoe company.