When everything hit the fan involving Steelers star wide-out Antonio Brown way back on December 31, one day after Pittsburgh’s 2018 season came to an end following a win vs. the Bengals—a game in-which Brown was deactivated—it just didn’t seem like his trade value could be that high.
Actually, at that very moment, when word leaked that Brown’s reason for skipping practices and meetings that week—not to mention his decision to leave the Cincinnati game at halftime—was because of a practice flare-up with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it may have been easier to just wish away the dispute and hope for a brighter day in the future.
But that brighter day—a clearing of the air between receiver and quarterback, receiver and head coach Mike Tomlin and, ultimately, receiver and owner Art Rooney II—never did come.
And Brown’s more recent actions on social media—airing his grievances about his coach and his quarterback (not to mention his previous Twitter flirtation with Jerry Rice and the 49ers organization)—made it quite clear he no longer wants to be employed by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fine, but what about the compensation? It just didn’t seem like the value in return for a trade would be close to fair—and if we’re being honest, no matter the return, the chances of any future draft pick even coming close to approaching Brown’s abilities were pretty slim.
Yet, here we are today, not long after Brown and Art II met in Florida and ultimately decided that a mutual parting of ways would be best for all involved (a public acknowledgement that should have further damaged Brown’s trade stock), and rumors are heating up that several teams are interested in acquiring No. 84 for the 2019 season.
Of course they are.
In the heat of the moment, it just didn’t feel like things would or could work out for the Steelers as they sought a trade partner for Brown. But all it takes is one team to make the right offer, and if several other suitors come calling, the right offer almost has to materialize, doesn’t it?
They don’t call them bidding wars—with emphasis on the word “war”—for nothing.
It has been said that in-order to compete, you have to over-spend. We see it almost every offseason when teams in all professional sports leagues pony up huge dough and are willing to agree to long-term deals just to sign free agents that will likely be shells of their former selves when these contracts are still on the books—Bryce Harper, 26, just signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
We see it at trade deadlines when teams are willing to mortgage their futures by giving away high draft picks or highly-thought of prospects in-order to acquire a player (often-times a rental player) so they can win now.
Despite Brown’s recent quirkiness that has edged closer to criminal behavior with some of his off-the-field issues; despite his belligerent attitude that only seems to be getting worse, believe me, there’s at least one coach or general manager who thinks he can set up a network of friends and confidants within his organization that will keep Brown happy.
There may even be a coach or gm who thinks he can provide the discipline that Brown has surely lacked all of these years. A number of years ago, Keyshawn Johnson, one of the diva receivers of his day, relayed a story from his time with the Buccaneers and a practice confrontation he had one afternoon with then head coach Jon Gruden. Johnson was apparently really disrespectful to Gruden during this shouting match, and according to Johnson, Tomlin, Tampa’s defensive backs coach, came up to the receiver afterwards and said, “If I was your head coach and you talked to me like that, I’d put my foot so far up your backside, you’d be tasting shoe polish.”
Did Tomlin, who was still several years away from realizing his dream of becoming a head coach, think at that very moment he’d one day allow himself to fall into the familiar coaching trap of showing preferential treatment to a superstar player?
Did he ever think he’d allow players to repeatedly come to meetings late or defiantly sleep during them?
Of course not.
No coach, gm or owner ever thinks he’d allow such things on his watch.
And even if an authority figure is taking diva-like behavior into consideration....well, those stats are just so darn sexy, and what if he’s the missing championship piece?
What I’m trying to say in all of this, is that unless Brown really goes off the deep end at some point (and it’s hard to discount that, honestly), the Steelers should get a fair deal for him—at least on paper.
What that is will be determined, of course, but if the Steelers are willing to be patient, some team is going to give them the offer they’re hoping for.