The Pittsburgh Steelers may not have been playing last weekend, but you would not have known if you had watched the pregame coverage from Wild Card weekend. Whether it was ESPN, Fox, CBS or the NFL Network, all of them had lengthy segments to share about Antonio Brown and his Week 17 drama. However, while unnamed sources were quoted and trades were speculated, no one was able to provide any news of substance citing a credible voice from within the Steelers organization.
With the Pittsburgh barely a week into their offseason, the national media narrative within 24 hours of it ending has been one of a team contemplating trading their best player. They would have you believe management are already discussing trade options and salary cap implications, but in reality that is far from the truth.
Mike Tomlin could not have been clearer about the team’s plans for dealing with their star receiver this offseason when speaking at his end of season press conference.
“I haven't spoken with him since I had the meeting with him prior to the game at the stadium on Sunday. Obviously, I am going to address it. We are going to address him and the circumstance. But to be quite honest with you, we are going to information-gather and use all of the time at our disposal in which to do so ... We are going to information-gather and handle it like we do in all circumstances. We are going to deal with it appropriately. We are going to handle it in-house and I am sure you will hear about the intimate details. But because we are not playing a game this week it hasn’t been addressed to this point.”
That was on Wednesday and unless you believe Tomlin is lying, the Steelers were far away from making any decisions about Brown’s future at that point. On Friday Pittsburgh fired Joey Porter after presumably having internal discussions about the coaching staff. In between the front office signed 14 players to reserve/futures contracts and re-signed an impending exclusive rights free agent to a new deal.
Nevertheless, rock solid media reports like this one from ESPN were still in plentiful supply this weekend.
Thankfully there was still some integrity to be found in some quarters, with perhaps the unlikeliest of those being an admission from Jason La Canfora of CBS. Especially notable given he was the one who started the trade rumors about Brown in the first place.
Steelers have had no organizational meetings yet about the roster. GM has not met with the owner about Antonio Brown and might not until end of next week. Owner has not talked to AB yet. Anyone assuming the likelihood of him being traded at this point is guessing or pretending— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 5, 2019
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN surprisingly went out of his way to correct a report from the NFL Network that just sounded like fiction the second James Jones said it.
FWIW, spoke to player who witnessed the whole thing last week who said Roethlisberger didn't say any of these lines. Have also heard the Big Ben/AB relationship categorized as a love-hate relationship, to be sure. But you don't hit six straight 100-catch seasons without trust. https://t.co/BCxQjtWkbA— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 6, 2019
At this stage of the offseason, trade speculation is just that - speculation. To believe the organization have had any credible discussions about moving Brown is absurd. Eight teams do not have head coaches, 12 more are involved in the playoffs and the last thing any NFL team is thinking about right now is how much it would cost them to trade for a 30-year-old wide receiver who just missed the final game of the season under questionable circumstances.
When the dust settles and the focus really does turn to 2019, there can be no denying that trading Brown could be on the agenda, but suggesting the Steelers are actively considering it right now or even entertaining offers is simply too ridiculous for any sane person to believe.