The Pittsburgh Steelers have been saying, and doing, all the right things when it comes to the potential trade of All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown.
“Three teams have put in calls.”
“More teams are engaged and have called.”
During the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine the proverbial hot stove heated up even more. Rumors swirled of teams like the Titans, Redskins, Raiders and other franchises all being ‘int he mix’ for Brown’s services in 2019 and beyond.
If you are like me, you went to bed Thursday night looking forward to Friday being the unwritten deadline for a deal to be done with Brown. What happened when I woke were a stream of text messages and notifications stating the Buffalo Bills and Steelers were closing in on a deal — until they weren’t.
This from ESPN’s Adam Schefter this morning, via the Buffalo Bills’ General Manager Brandon Beane:
Bills’ GM Brandon Beane: “We inquired about Antonio Brown on Tuesday, and kept talks open with the Steelers. We had positive discussions, but ultimately it didn’t make sense for either side. As great a player as Antonio Brown is, we have moved on and our focus is on free agency.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2019
So what exactly happened? How did things go south so quick? According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it was Brown who nixed the deal between the two AFC clubs.
Steelers and Bills had”positive” trade talks last night, but deal fell apart because Antonio Brown nixed going to Buffalo, per source.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 8, 2019
Antonio Brown indicated he would not report to Bills if traded, according to source.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 8, 2019
This is where the potential trade for Brown gets extremely dicey. This isn’t new information, but information many have neglected to even consider when talking about this situation the past few weeks/months.
Antonio Brown doesn’t just want traded, he wants a new contract as well. So, the Steelers want a first round draft pick, and they are sending a player to an organization who will then have to start serious contract negotiations revolving around guaranteed money. Oh, and Brown has to be okay with going there. After all, who would want to make a trade with a team when the player isn’t going to show up?
This makes the trade even more difficult for all parties involved. As Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette points out, while Kevin Colbert said Brown won’t have a say in where he goes, this might not be the case moving forward.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said 2 weeks ago that Antonio Brown would have no say in where they trade him. Looks as though he is having a very large say— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) March 8, 2019
Coming full circle, you have to wonder what the Steelers’ options really are at this point. They hold onto Brown’s rights, and don’t have to trade him. Them shopping him is essentially doing him a favor. If they don’t find a suitor who is willing to give them fair compensation for Brown, they can just keep him. Will he ever play for the Steelers again? I doubt it, but they have that card in their back pocket.
The other option is to take far less in a trade scenario than originally planned. This might be in the form of a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick. Sure, the Steelers’ fan base would be absolutely livid, but would it be better than Brown sitting out the entire season and getting nothing in return?
This situation has gone from good, to bad, to worse and the Steelers will have some tough decisions ahead of them in the coming hours, days, weeks and maybe even months. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest on this situation as it unfolds.