Quite a few NFL analysts, both local and nationally, firmly believe that the Pittsburgh Steelers will ultimately trade wide receiver Antonio Brown during the offseason and likely prior to paying him his $2.5 million roster bonus in March. However, at least one former high-ranking NFL team executive has now gone on record to predict that Brown won’t be traded or cut this offseason by the Steelers due to the dead money the team would have to eat in 2019 if the wide receiver is dealt.
Andrew Brandt, who was once the vice president of the Green Bay Packers from 1999-2008, wrote a short article for Sports Illustrated on Tuesday telling why he truly believes the Steelers won’t be trading or cutting Brown this offseason.
“Antonio Brown is not going anywhere,” wrote Brandt, who negotiated all players contracts and helped manage the salary cap when he was with the Packers. “I know the narrative: He’s worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh, problems with teammates, coaches, blah, blah, blah. However, this is one of those situations where the Steelers have made their bed with Brown’s heavily bonused contract. Brown is uncuttable and untradeable. He would cost the Steelers more than $21 million on their cap if he is not on the team, only $1 million less that he would cost if he were on the team.”
Brandt’s numbers are indeed correct and in case you missed it, I broke down the cap implications and scenarios related to Brown being traded or cut this offseason in a post I wrote last week. In short, if the Steelers were to trade Brown before paying him the $2.5 million roster bonus he’s due in March, the Steelers would have a dead money hit in 2019 of $21.12 million, which is just $1.045 million less than his cap charge would be if the team kept him.
Brandt continued on with why he thinks Brown will still be with the Steelers in 2019.
“Fantasy general managers have all kinds of theories to make this work: The Steelers could save Brown’s future non-guaranteed cash going forward and basically have a wash cap-wise this year. Please. The Steelers are not going to carry a cap charge of $21 million for a player no longer on their roster, especially a highly productive one. Period. It would not only weaken them on the field, but also weaken them off the field, no matter how many contract restructures they do with Ben Roethlisberger. And, despite recent drama with Brown and Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers are normally shrewd with business decisions.”
Brandt’s analysis and prediction certainly makes a lot of sense as $21.12 million certainly would be a hefty dead money figure for the Steelers to absorb in 2019. Even so, that well-educated look at the probability of Brown being dealt before March 17 from a business side of things won’t slow down speculation that the Steelers will ultimately trade away the wide receiver.
As previously stated, while the Steelers can probably start exploring trade offers for Brown right now, they can’t actually deal him until the 2019 trading period opens on March 13. Brown’s $2.5 roster bonus is due just a few days after that so if he’s not traded before that’s paid to him, odds are very good he’ll be with the Steelers come the start of the 2019 season.