Recently, I was scrolling through a rather interesting comment board here at BTSC about possible trade destinations for Pittsburgh Steelers disgruntled employee Antonio Brown. Some suggestions seemed plausible at the time, some not so much. It was all basically thought provoking insights and opinions, providing each participant with a forum to vent some pent up frustrations concerning AB's strange behavior and uncertain future in Pittsburgh.
I had read earlier in the day on another site that the Dallas Cowboys were rumored to be interesting in entering the AB trade talks, so I suggested trading Antonio Brown straight up for Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch. I was only half serious at the time, realizing that it all was probably wishful thinking on my part. I rationalized that the Steelers need to get a proven performer to help offset the huge loss AB's absence will have on the field next season. Even a early first rounder isn't guaranteed to be an immediate contributor, and the Steelers need any newcomer to contribute sooner rather than later.
My topic of discussion was quickly dismissed by a devil's advocate who questioned why any rational GM would consider trading a young stud linebacker for a troubled wide receiver past thirty years of age. Then a BTSC friend entered the fray and tried to defend my sanity. He said I was only dreaming. While I always appreciate the support I get on this site, that statement got me thinking.
I may be crazy, but I shouldn't be the one dreaming. The Dallas Cowboys are the ones who should be pinching themselves. The Cowboys have the perfect opportunity to dream big this off season. Trade for Antonio Brown and reclaim their position at the center of the NFL universe.
The Cowboys play in the largest, most expensive football stadium in the world, because that is the only way Owner Jerry Jones knows how to do things. He only wants the biggest and best, because that fits his personality and ego. His impact was immediately felt all across the league the moment he purchased the team.
He brought in the best coach available in Jimmy Johnson, handed him the reigns to the team, and backed away. The rest is history.
A few great drafts, free agency maneuvers, and a blockbuster trade later the Cowboys were once again NFL royalty and two time Super Bowl champions. Then Jerry Jones huge ego got the best of him and eventually destroyed a possible dynasty. Fearing Johnson was getting too much credit for the Cowboys success on the field, their relationship strained and Jones eventually replaced him with longtime friend and legendary college coach Barry Switzer. Although Switzer was able to win one Super Bowl with Jimmy's players, and a lot of help from a well compensated Steelers QB, the days of Dallas domination were over. They haven't been a legitimate contender since that Super Bowl victory. If you are Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys fanbase that particular fact is simply unacceptable.
However, there could be hope on the horizon in the form of another blockbuster trade. Not the kind of lopsided trade that brings one team multiple draft picks needed to build a championship roster, the likes of a Herschel Walker trade may never be seen again. No, this trade would actually benefit both teams.
As presently constructed, the Cowboys are a perennial playoff contender. However, they have showed nothing to this point that would suggest they are truly capable of competing for a championship. Add Antonio Brown to that equation and suddenly their threat level goes way up. They possess a young established QB for whom AB could become a security blanket of sorts, a talented workhorse RB who could share the workload and deflect attention, a WR2 who is not an aggressive personality who would threaten AB's numbers, and an offensive line in need of better health and a little luck to return to one of the better units in the league.
Now I realize that Leighton Vander Esch had a Pro Bowl level rookie season and appears poised for a long and successful career, but his mere presence doesn't make the Cowboys contenders. He doesn't create instant credibility and national media intrigue. Antonio Brown's presence in a Cowboys uniform would do just that. It would be a marvelous union to behold. AB catching touchdown passes in that stadium with that big old star on his helmet just makes sense somehow. AB could fall to his knees after each one, looking up at the biggest replay of himself he could ever wish for on the massive screen, feigning humility toward the adoring crowd as he comes off the field, only after pointing an acknowledging finger toward the one owner in the whole NFL who really understands him.
AB and Jerry's union would be the talk of the sports world and place the Cowboys back in the national spotlight. Jerry Jones already has experience dealing with high maintenance diva receivers in Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens. Jerry might be exactly what AB needs right now. Finally, a franchise, a fanbase, and a ownership group grandiose enough to appreciate AB's self worth.
The Steelers would receive young stud Vander Esch, a player that would instantly strengthen a huge weakness on the defense and become a fan favorite overnight. Any fan old enough to have witnessed Jack Lambert will recognize Version 2.0 because the length, the wingspan, the instincts, and the attitude are undeniable. If only he was missing a couple of teeth from an intimidating grill, but nobody's perfect.
Jerry Jones needs to make this trade happen if he wants to hoist the Lombardi Trophy anytime in the near future. There is no better opportunity to make that happen than to trade for a player destined to have a huge star on his helmet.
The Dallas Cowboys are the most valuable franchise in the NFL and AB is open for business. Sounds like a match made in heaven.