Since the end of the Steelers season in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs, a lot has been discussed about the future of Pro Bowl WR Antonio Brown.
Whether he would be able to get past his issues and stay with the team, get traded, or be released entirely were all potential routes to go down with the outspoken player.
After weeks of tweets from Brown, conversations between he & Steelers’ brass, & all the media coverage you could imagine, it finally appears that the team is close to moving on from Brown via trade.
It is being reported that the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, & that team in Washington D.C. have shown the most interest in a trade. Also, it appears the Arizona Cardinals & New York Jets have fallen out of the running, which I assume Brown is okay with given the records of those teams last season.
Keep in mind that although Brown has been a bit of a lightening rod over the past few seasons, he does still bring with him an NFL record six straight seasons of 100+ catches, and three years left on his contract with zero guaranteed money.
So whichever team pulls the trigger on a trade, they won’t necessarily be stuck with him financially if it isn’t the right fit for either side.
Of those three teams mentioned, lets take a look into each situation that Brown would be heading into if traded to one of those places.
The Raiders clearly have the most assets to give up after trading Khalil Mack & Amari Cooper, and they’re in major need of some help on the offensive side of the ball for Derek Carr. Of the three teams, I believe this would be the best situation for both the team and player.
However, with Jon Gruden still trying to put his vision into motion for the team, it’s currently uncertain if he’ll truly want to give up one of his first round draft picks for a veteran WR who will be on the wrong side of 30 years old by the start of the season.
Also, don’t forget that Antonio Brown has gotten pretty accustomed to winning at least nine or ten games a season. With the Raiders coming off one of their toughest seasons under their new coach, it remains to be seen how Brown would react to going from a constant contender to a team just trying to catch up in their own division.
The Titans are an interesting team to see in the mix for for Brown as they have quite a bit of offensive talent, but injuries have halted their progress over the past few years.
Their top two targets, Corey Davis & Taywan Taylor, have been battling different injuries since being taken in the first & third rounds, respectively, in 2017. So adding a veteran who knows how to take care of his body and hasn’t missed more than two games a season the last six years could only benefit them. Not to mention, Marcus Mariota could stand to have a more reliable WR1 option.
Adding Antonio Brown would only make things more interesting in the increasingly difficult & talent-packed AFC South division.
Going to Washington would be the worst option for Brown because there’s nothing for Brown to look forward to on this team.
Sure, he would have the offensive-minded Jay Gruden who would make sure to utilize him the most efficient way possible, but the question still remains: who would be throwing him the ball? Alex Smith still isn’t scheduled to be anywhere close to returning by training camp or at all next season. We’ve known for years that Colt McCoy is not a long-term answer to start for an NFL team with a 7-20 record as a starter in the league.
So where does that leave them? Do they go draft a guy early in the first round like Dwayne Haskins or sign a free agent like Teddy Bridgewater or Tyrod Taylor? It remains to be seen who winds up under center for them to start the season.
I already mentioned that Brown might not take too kindly to losing more than he did while in Pittsburg. But also keep in mind his mindset potentially going into a team with no real answers at QB, which he’s also never really had to worry about before.
None of the teams above are a perfect fit, but if one of these teams are going to pull the trigger on him, I’d like to see him go to the Titans because they’d give him the best chance to win right now and surround him with the best talent to help ease his workload.
There were also discussions early on about his desire to maybe go play in San Francisco, which would be an outstanding fit for everyone involved. But GM John Lynch better plan to make a move fast if he does in fact share the same desire to bring Brown in.
If I had to pick a “sleeper” team to come in and make a play for the superstar WR, I’d pick the New Orleans Saints who always seems to retool their offense every year for Drew Brees to have another amazing year and lead them toward another potential championship run.
There was also word that the Steelers preferred to move Brown to the NFC so they wouldn’t aid a team they might eventually see in the playoffs, but with Washington being the only NFC team in that top three, it appears likely Brown may stay put in the AFC.