The Steelers have agreed to try to find a trade partner and send away Brown.
That’s easier said than done with Brown under contract through the 2021 season. The Steelers won’t save much money by parting with the receiver, and it probably makes sense for the team to smooth things over with the seven-time Pro Bowler. But that reconciliation is looking increasingly unlikely.
Brown turns 31 in July, and has posted at least 1,200 receiving yards in six consecutive seasons — an accomplishment only he, Jerry Rice, Torry Holt, and Randy Moss can claim. Brown also led the NFL in receiving touchdowns during the 2018 season with 15.
But the drama between the receiver and the Steelers boiled over to the point that Brown sat out the team’s Week 17 finale to the 2018 season.
The saga may end with Brown playing elsewhere. That’d be a huge shakeup, and the 49ers, Cowboys, and Packers are all considered possible landing spots. We’ll keep track of all the rumors right here:
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Steelers’ preference is to trade Brown to an NFC team. They also will not deal him to the Patriots or another team in the AFC North.
General manager Kevin Colbert joined NFL Network and reiterated that the Steelers won’t make a deal if it doesn’t benefit the team. Colbert said Pittsburgh has received a few calls, though.
Steelers GM Kevin Colbert says @nflnetwork that three teams have inquired about an Antonio Brown trade.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) February 22, 2019
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo speculated that the Jets could be one of those teams.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN that the trade is in the Steelers’ hands right now. And just because the Steelers plan to attempt to trade Brown doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll happen. There are still some hurdles, and Pittsburgh won’t trade him unless the deal “benefits the Steelers.”
“We’re open to shopping around the league to see what may be available in exchange for your services, by no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. Specifically, we will not be discounting you on the trade market, and we certainly will not be releasing you.
All that being said, we’ll take a positive approach. If someone has a sincere interest and they want to make a move — either a significant draft pick, or a set of picks, or a significant player plus picks — and we think it will benefit the Pittsburgh Steelers in the long run, then we’re all in. If not, then we’ll make that decision at that point.”
Brown met with Steelers owner Art Rooney II and posted that the two came to an agreement that it was “time to move on.”
Had a great meeting with Mr.Rooney today we discussed a lot of things and we cleared the air on several issues! We both agreed that it is time to move on but I’ll always have appreciation and gratitude towards the Rooney family and @steelers organization! #CallGod #Boomin pic.twitter.com/DEgURchvhW
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 19, 2019
According to Pro Football Talk, that meeting ended with the Steelers agreeing to attempt to trade Brown. He still cannot hunt for his own trade, though.
Brown went to Facebook Live to say he’s only interested in guaranteed money.
“If your squad want to win and your squad want a hungry wide receiver who’s the best in the whole world, someone hit my phone,” said Brown. “Tell them I ain’t doing no unguarantees. I ain’t even gonna play myself no more for this NFL. … I think I done everything. What y’all think? What’s left for me to do? Win a Super Bowl? Gotta be the right team for that, right? … If your team got guaranteed money, they want to get to know me and work with me, tell them to call me.”
Brown posted several tweets to clarify his desire for a trade, even calling out quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin.
No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
After the coach tell the team I quit while nursing some bumps then invite me to watch the show with same guys thinking I quit i can not stand with that! I’m the bad guy doe we miss post season think about it https://t.co/imrJ8jnnBc
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
Raising tensions may be a good way for Brown to get himself traded, but it also scared off at least one team, according to NBC’s Peter King:
I think the more Antonio Brown tweets, the more he scares off potential suitors. (That’s not just something I think. In the case of one team, it’s something I know.)
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Brown has officially requested a trade from the team. That report came just minutes after Brown said his goodbyes to Pittsburgh with a highlights video posted on social media.
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 12, 2019
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said the Broncos are expected to be an interested suitor:
From @NFLGameDay: The #Steelers are going to get trade offers for Antonio Brown, and rival GMs predict they’ll be able to at least get a 2nd rounder. The #Broncos are expected to be one of many teams interested. pic.twitter.com/Hz16So8pwV
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 12, 2019
“Among the teams who may be interested — just based on salary cap space — the Jets would be one, the 49ers, the Colts,” Rapoport said. “I am told to keep an eye on the Denver Broncos. They are one of the teams plotting a run for Antonio Brown.”
The Steelers are reportedly open to the idea of trading Brown.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 5, 2019
“They are expected, over the course of the next couple of months as we head into the 2019 offseason to — at the very least — listen to trade offers,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said. “They haven’t shut the door on the possibility of [Brown] playing for another team.”
There was some public flirtation between Brown and members of the 49ers on social media shortly after the reports of the receiver’s drama with the Steelers. A few weeks later, Brown posted an edited photo on his Instagram of himself in a 49ers uniform.
Brown was officially ruled out of a Week 17 game with a knee injury, but reports surfaced later in the week that alleged a blowup earlier in the week caused the absence.
Was told this afternoon by a source during Steelers locker room clean out that Antonio Brown threw a ball near/at feet of Ben Roethlisberger and walked out of practice. Post-Gazette reporting Brown skipped Sat walkthrough and expected to play Sunday. He didn’t. @TheAthleticPGH
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) December 31, 2018