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The Steelers’ return for Antonio Brown wasn’t nearly enough...or was it?

The Steelers obviously didn’t get enough in return for the trade of Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders. But, then again, given the receiver’s ongoing antics, maybe they got all that they could.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

In a trade that will be made official on Wednesday when the NFL’s new calendar year kicks off (unless he ruins the deal by saying Ken Stabler didn’t respect Cliff Branch nearly enough), the Steelers have sent disgruntled All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown to the Raiders in exchange for their 2019 third and fifth-round draft picks.

That’s it?

I was asking that question on Saturday night, anyway, when the news first broke.

“This is how this all ends?”

“The greatest receiver in Steelers history, a man who had the greatest statistical six-year run in NFL history, is shipped off to Oakland for what you got for Martavis Bryant....plus another measly pick?”

I continued to have those thoughts on Sunday afternoon when I spoke with Bryan Anthony Davis on a special edition of the Steelers Hangover. If it were up to me, and all I could get for Brown was what I actually got for him, I would have waited it out. I would have continued to field offers between now and the start of the 2019 NFL Draft. And if I still didn’t get what I wanted, I would have waited until the end of training camp. And, assuming Brown was intent on not showing up for camp and the season, I would have allowed him to sit out all of 2019—while fining him weekly paychecks in the process.

How can you only get what you got for Antonio Brown? Here’s a man who I often compared to Jerry Rice—and without my tongue firmly planted in between my cheek. He was and perhaps still is the ultimate wide receiver. Great hands. Great routes. Great speed. Great quickness. Maybe the best ever at getting those two feet in-bounds (they, or at least, he, didn’t call him Tony Toe Tap for nothing).

Here we are, days later, and I'm still a little displeased with the return (the haul, as they say this time of year) for No. 84.

But at the same time, I’m also a realist. Although the Raiders, one of the favorites to land Brown all along, had three first-round picks, even the most optimistic Steeler fan had to have some bad thoughts in the back of his or her mind last week after Brown torpedoed a reported trade with the Bills. One such thought perhaps was, “Geeze, with Brown pulling a John Elway (1983)/Eli Manning (2004) by proclaiming quite loudly that he wouldn’t go to Buffalo, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers being able to fully recover in the “Brown to whomever” sweepstakes.”

Yet, when news broke on Friday night that Brown would likely be going to a new team, and that team was probably Oakland, the thought of Pittsburgh not being able to pry one of those first-round picks away seemed absurd.

I guess it was absurd. It was absurd to think the Steelers could actually recover from the damage Brown had done the past nine weeks or so, especially the most recent damage of nixing trades with teams he didn’t want to go to.

It’s hard to get a team to give up a first-round pick for a player when that player might just up and retire if he doesn’t want to play for that team.

It's hard to trade a player to a new team when that player is talking about re-working his already very lucrative deal once he gets to that new team.

And, besides, as Bryan pointed out during our rather cathartic show, who’s to say Brown wouldn’t do or say something bizarre/crazy/stupid between now and the draft, between now and the end of training camp?

And while I might do this or that, the only person with the power to do those things is Kevin Colbert, the general manager and the man who takes orders from Art Rooney II, the guy with the owner’s mentality (he’s actually allowed to have that mentality—at least I think so) that didn’t get a return call from Brown, his employee, after he skipped out on practice and then went AWOL at halftime of the regular season-finale vs. the Bengals.

That was a lot of insubordination I just described in that last run-on paragraph.

Maybe Colbert got a directive from Rooney to get what he could for Brown and to do it in a very timely manner.

We shall never know.

So, did the Steelers really get enough for Antonio Brown? No. But, then again, how could they?