It has been quite a start to the new year in the NFL. The coaching carousel has been fantastic to follow, from a possible John Harbaugh trade to a potential Bruce Arians comeback. Aside from that, there’s another fire that’s been getting hotter with each passing day – the Pittsburgh Steelers trading their best player.
Prior to their Week 17 tilt against the Cincinnati Bengals, it was reported the Wednesday before the game that Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown was nursing a knee injury and was considered questionable to play. His status remained in doubt for the remainder of the week and he was ultimately ruled out for the final game of the season – one that may have been his final game as a member of the team that drafted him.
After the game, it was revealed that Brown did not have any injury as initally reported and that the actual reason for him not playing in Week 17 was because of an altercation on the practice field on Wednesday. What allegedly sparked the issue was Brown running the wrong route and Ben Roethlisberger saying something along the lines of “Get somebody else in there. Get him out of there.” After that, Brown reportedly stormed off the practice field yelling “I’m done!”
Many perceived Brown’s dramatic proclamation of being “done” as him making a trade request, however there was no formal trade request made by Brown to the Steelers organization. Whether Brown said it out of pure frustration or was seriously intending to get the Steelers to consider trading him is still unknown, but the Steelers are seemingly doing the latter. Ian Rapoport reported earlier this week that Pittsburgh is expected to field trade offers for the disgrunted wideout and that the asking price will be large. Rapoport’s report was later followed up by Adam Schefter announcing that the Steelers are expected to restructure Ben Roethlisberger’s contract and later extend it to allocate salary cap room. Schefter’s ESPN counterpart Chris Mortensen echoed that report and added that the Steelers will gain $14.5 million in cap space from Le’Veon Bell’s holdout that has not yet been calculated.
With the moves mentioned above that the Steelers are expected to make, it would seem logical for the team to trade Antonio Brown, as his $21.2 million dead cap hit would be much more manageable. The Steelers should actually be incline to trade him in my opinion, as there is not a single team in the NFL that would not want Brown on his current contract. Brown has three years remaining on his four-year, $68 million extension he signed back in February of 2017. The contract an acquring team would be entitled to is a three-year deal worth $39 million. It’s worth noting that if said team were to release Brown before the deal expires, they would not incur any dead cap penalty. It sounds very appealing to both sides, as the Steelers can bring in either a big name player or some serious draft capital, while simultaneously removing a distraction from the locker room.
Having stored all of that information, there is one team that comes to mind when discussing a potential trade for Antonio Brown: the San Francisco 49ers. It’s almost hard for me to imagine him being traded anywhere else at this point, given the way John Lynch and his front office operate and Antonio Brown’s clear interest in playing for the 49ers through his social media accounts. The 49ers have shown under John Lynch that they’re not afraid to make big moves or try to trade for players that would be considered untouchable. So, I ask you, should the Pittsburgh Steelers trade Antonio Brown?