If you think about it, the Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 regular season resembles the career arc of Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh.
- Both got off to a relatively slow start.
- Looked absolutely unstoppable at times.
- Showed tremendous promise on more than one occasion.
- In the end, practically derailed themselves into oblivion.
This isn’t to suggest Antonio Brown doesn’t still have good football left in him — trust me, he does. But if you are the General Manager/Owner/Head Coach of an NFL team, and you want to add Brown to your roster, you might want to do your homework before pulling the trigger on a deal.
For the time being, let’s just keep the off-field distractions/interactions out of the equation. I’ll get there, but I wanted to talk about the on-field aspect of acquiring Brown first.
In my opinion, Brown is a generational talent at the wide receiver position, but it also should be noted he fell right into the perfect situation while with the Steelers. Brown and Ben Roethlisberger spent countless hours, over several years, working on their connection, and to think this can just be duplicated elsewhere is a very poor decision.
When Roethlisberger missed time, even when quarterbacks who were in the Steelers’ system took over, do you know how many touchdown passes Brown caught?
That’s right. Antonio Brown has never caught a touchdown pass from someone other than Ben Roethlisberger in his entire career.
I found this to be astonishing, considering the amount of time Roethlisberger has missed on several occasions, but it makes you wonder if Brown would be able to just pick up where he left off with Roethlisberger if/when he finds a new football home?
Roethlisberger helped make Brown, and Brown helped make Roethlisberger, on occasion to a fault, but no one really knows what Brown will do without Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger has helped several wide receivers become better players overall. Some eventually hitting a big pay day after leaving Pittsburgh.
Antwaan Randle El
The list could go on, but the fact remains that if I’m a General Manager for another team, I’m wondering what Brown’s attitude is going to be if he doesn’t have the immediate success with the quarterback currently on their roster.
This then brings up the topic of behavior both on and off the field. Throughout Brown’s career, his demeanor towards things possibly not going his way has gotten worse. It isn’t always noticeable, and the cameras aren’t always catching it, but the time he threw the Gatorade jug on the sideline in Baltimore was just one example.
Brown usually is able to keep his cool, but that is often because he knows footballs will be thrown his way. This past year he didn’t have the astonishing reception numbers he had in 2014 or 2015, but what he did do in 2018 was set a new career mark for touchdown receptions in a season, with 15. When you are putting up touchdowns at that rate, you tolerate some comments, trends and attitudes which might not completely jive with what you really want.
Antonio Brown is your typical star wide receiver in the NFL. I hate to use the term ‘diva’ when talking about receivers, but he realizes his skill level. He knows how he can help his team, but he also wants what is best for him. What is best for his brand, and that would be none other than getting a ton of passes thrown his way on a weekly basis.
Could Antonio Brown go to another team and be as effective as he was in Pittsburgh? Absolutely, but the one caveat here is he isn’t a free agent. He isn’t facing the choice of picking between going to the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, or the San Francisco 49ers with Jimmy Garoppolo. No, he goes where the Steelers tell him he is going, and this should scare the pants off of Brown.
Imagine if the Steelers pull a trade off with the Arizona Cardinals. Think Brown would be okay with the learning curve of second year quarterback Josh Rosen? The same could be said with Sam Darnold and the New York Jets or Josh Allen with the Buffalo Bills.
Brown has had it good in Pittsburgh, and if/when he realizes the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence, his actions/behavior might have the team who pays handsomely for his services left with some buyer’s remorse over the deal.