Antonio Brown is gone. After his meeting with Art Rooney II on Tuesday, both of the parties agreed that it would be best for them to move on and the Steelers will now move forward in preparation to trade Antonio Brown away from the Steelers.
Still, though, regardless of your view of Brown, you cannot downplay how good of a receiver he is. The Steelers are losing the best WR in their history and one of the best in the game today. He will not be easily replaced and JuJu Smith-Schuster will be thrust into the No. 1 WR role immediately following this whole debacle.
It is no secret that the Steelers will have to replace the ill-fated Mr. Big Chest as he heads off into the sunset away from the Steelers organization. You cannot just sit and wait on James Washington. He might be able to fill that role this year, but with how he performed last year, I think Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers Front Office would be tenfold more confident if he was the WR3 and not the WR2.
There are a few ways you can look at addressing this if you are the Steelers. One, you can go out in a deep draft, select a WR early and expect him to be your WR2. Guys like Kelvin Harmon, D.K. Metcalf, and Deebo Samuel actually fit this role just fine. It is not a far-fetched idea that the Steelers could select a WR in the first round to replace Brown and get Roethlisberger a refurbishment of weaponry.
They could also look to free agency for this help. With guys like Golden Tate and Tyrell Williams hitting the market, the Steelers would have to shell out a significant amount to sign either one of those guys, but Tate specifically has a very appealing vibe to him.
However, with recent rumblings that Emmanuel Sanders might be on his way out of Denver, whether that be by trade or outright release, the Steelers have a unique opportunity here.
Could they actually reunite with an old friend in Sanders?
Obviously, he didn’t say the nicest things about Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown earlier this season, but there was once upon a time where Sanders truly was a model teammate. He has been a great teammate in Denver, and although he clearly cares about his pockets being lined, once they are, he is not a detriment to the team.
The issue? He has a rather large cap hit, would likely require a trade, and is coming off of a torn achilles. If he is released, this is an easier sell, but it is not certain that John Elway will walk away like that. Do the Steelers want to take a risk on a guy like that?
For old time’s sake, maybe. Maybe Sanders does come back strong, the Steelers get a dynamic vertical threat who can stretch the field and take all the pressure off of JuJu. That would be amazing.
So will it happen? Maybe. It is one of those risky deals that could blow up in your face, and obviously, it is a weighing scale for Kevin Colbert, but don’t think this is that absurd.