Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson was up for free-agency, but there was some doubt as to whether or not the team would re-sign him or allow him to walk.
I don’t recall the particulars—I suppose he was a restricted free-agent—but I do remember doing some research and discovering that if he did sign elsewhere, the Steelers would be awarded a first round draft pick.
I soon called my brother, and we were both excited about who the Steelers would choose with this additional first round pick in exchange for the their starting cornerback and best defensive player.
Would they get a future multiple-time Pro Bowler? Maybe they’d find a soon-to-be NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Perhaps they’d even land a player who would some day be named to an all-time NFL team.
Turns out, the Steelers retained Woodson’s services, and he went on to be named the Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 and was voted onto the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team in 1994.
Let’s not forget those 11 Pro Bowl selections as well as his Hall of Fame induction in 2009, after 17 glorious years with the Steelers, 49ers, Ravens and Raiders.
So could the Steelers have done better than an 11-time Pro Bowler/Defensive Player of the Year/NFL all-time great/Hall of Famer, had they allowed Woodson to walk in exchange for a first round pick in the early 90’s?
And that brings me to today and Steelers multiple All-Pro/Pro Bowl/excessive celebrating/Dancing With the Stars/Facebook Live Feed/stepping out on his woman for an Instragram model receiver Antonio Brown.
There’s no question Brown, with 481 receptions since the start of the 2013 season, is one of the best in the NFL at his craft. There’s also no question that, with his excessive post-touchdown celebrations, social media habits, pouting after not getting the football thrown his way enough and just overall distraction-creating behavior, Brown is the proverbial pain in the butt.
With that in mind, and with the 2017 NFL Draft fast approaching, would you trade Brown for a top five pick if given the chance?
Think about it, if you traded Brown to, well, the Browns, you would have a chance to draft Myles Garrett, the 273 pound edge pass-rusher out of Texas A&M, who has the skill-set to potentially make you forget about James Harrison and every other Steelers outside linebacker since Mike Merriweather.
And if the Steelers couldn’t fetch the first overall selection for Brown, surely they could nab one of the other top four picks.
With that pick, they would have their choice of the top cornerback, safety or even quarterback (I’m looking at you, Mitch Trubinsky or Patrick Mahomes—whichever one grades out the best in terms of pre-draft measurables).
Sadly, of course, they would have to give up a receiver who has averaged 120 receptions over the past four years and who was largely responsible for keeping their 2016 season alive when he clinched the AFC North title after fighting off three Ravens defenders and somehow extended his arm over the goal line in a 31-27 win over the Ravens at Heinz Field on December 25.
But this time of year, however, the superstars are the draft prospects, players like Garrett, Trubinsky, Mahomes, or Solomon Thomas, Jamal Adams and O.J. Howard.
These are college prospects that might lead you to jump for joy in late April.
But would they cause you to do the same in late December or early January?
Antonio Brown has caused you to do that at least a few times during those pivotal months over his seven seasons in Pittsburgh.
But those shenanigans, they might be too difficult to live with.
So, which would you choose on April 27: a proven commodity or top five potential?
It’s your hypothetical choice, and you’re on the clock.