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Steelers make it clear they want a ‘significant draft pick’ in return for Antonio Brown

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But if Pittsburgh cannot find the value they are looking for, the GM did not count out the prospect of keeping him - “I don’t think any relationship is irreparable.”

Houston Texans v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

If the “experts” in the national media are to be believed, the Pittsburgh Steelers could struggle to find a team willing to give them a high draft pick in return for Antonio Brown. With questions about his attitude and an apparent desire for a new contract with guaranteed money, some have suggested the shine has come off the NFL’s best wide receiver.

Brown’s reaction to his meeting with the Steelers on Tuesday left no doubt that he felt he already had one foot out of the door, but he would be wise to pay close attention to the words of general manager Kevin Colbert on Wednesday. When talking to a group of local beat reporters, although Colbert made it clear that Pittsburgh was open to trading their star receiver, he also made it equally clear that the price would not be discounted.

As reported by Bob Labriola of Steelers.com.

“Really, the summation of (the meeting) was that we’re all disappointed that we’re at this point. How things transpired – we’re all disappointed. Antonio is disappointed. We’re disappointed. As to what contributed to the disappointment, I’ll leave that between us on our side and his side. Respectively, we did agree to look into a trade (as) the best course of action for both sides. And when I say that, what was put out yesterday was partially true. The point we made to Antonio was that we love you as a player and we thank you for what you’ve done for us over the past nine years. We’re disappointed we didn’t get you a Super Bowl, and I still think you’re a Hall of Fame candidate, and I’m disappointed that may not happen with us.”

“But the other point we made (to Antonio) was that (while) we’re open to shopping around the league to see what may be available in exchange for your services, by no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. Specifically, we will not be discounting you on the trade market, and we certainly will not be releasing you. All that being said, we’ll take a positive approach. If someone has a sincere interest and they want to make a move – either a significant draft pick, or a set of picks, or a significant player plus picks – and we think it will benefit the Pittsburgh Steelers in the long run, then we’re all in. If not, then we’ll make that decision at that point.”

Should the sort of offer Pittsburgh is looking for not materialize, the prospect of Brown being expected to fulfill his contractual obligations with the Steelers were still a possibility.

“If we can’t make a trade that’s satisfactory to us, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. We know we have a significant player. We also know that it’s probably best that we move on. But we also know that will only happen if that benefits us.”

Contrary to media speculation suggesting Pittsburgh would not trade Brown to an AFC rival, the general manager refused to rule out any potential partners either.

“If those teams step up and offer you the best picks or the best players in return, then we have to make that judgment. Will we be selective about where we trade him? It will depend on what the compensation is.”

But if the Steelers cannot find the value they are looking for, Colbert appears optimistic the relationship with Brown could still be salvaged if it came to that.

“I’ve seen players change perspectives (of themselves) from the beginning of the game to the end of the game to the start of the next week, let alone a season to an offseason to a new season. People’s perspective, players’ perspective, scouts’ perspective, coaches’ perspective, they all change. Right now the perspective is that the best thing to do is to seek a trade. If we can, then great. If we can’t, then we’ll deal with it at that point. But I don’t think any relationship is irreparable.”

It would be fair to wonder how much Colbert’s words were meant for Brown and how much they were meant for the rest of the NFL. The general manager effectively used the media session as a way of letting prospective trade partners know Pittsburgh is looking for a serious return, putting the whole league on notice they will need to step up if they want AB.

If the Steelers can make other teams believe they would be willing to live with Brown’s antics rather than let him go for next to nothing, they stand a better chance of driving his price up. For AB, it should hopefully make him realise that any future social media revelations in the coming weeks could have serious ramifications for his future.