Each passing day seems to bring us closer and closer to the possibility of the Pittsburgh Steelers moving on in 2019 without All-Pro (or at least should-be All-Pro) wide receiver Antonio Brown, with his latest antics consisting of him working to remove all mentions of his employment by the Steelers on his social media platforms.
Brown, still under contract for three more years averaging about $17 million per season, essentially rendered himself ineligible to play during the final game of the season by taking himself out of the equation, forgoing practices, skipping meetings, and ultimately going incommunicado over the weekend leading up to the game.
He has remained incommunicative with the team and his peers since then, and according to Jason La Canfora (mind the source), the Steelers are “beginning initial preparation into a potential blockbuster trade” that “team officials anticipate includes a first-round pick”.
Now, no matter who actually reports this, none of it should be surprising. President Art Rooney II already made it pretty clear that trading Brown is very much on the table, and the further he goes on not speaking to anybody, the likelier they are to start picking up the phone themselves and calling teams.
Former general manager Joe Banner also weighed in on Twitter, saying that “they should get a lot more than a 1 if they handle it right”, calling him the “best receiver maybe ever available in trade and under contract at a great price for three years”.
They should get a lot more than a 1 if they handle it right. Best receiver maybe ever available in trade and under contract at a great price for three years. https://t.co/evAG8SEiPS
— Joe Banner (@JoeBanner13) January 12, 2019
The New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr. signed a contract last offseason that set a new high in per-year salary at $18 million per season, with Brown’s deal beginning to look more and more affordable with each passing year as the salary cap and wide receiver contracts rise.
Brown will be 31 in 2019, but he is still at the top of his game, finished this past season with 104 receptions for 1297 yards and a league-leading, franchise-record, career-high 15 touchdown receptions, doing so in the aforementioned 15 games. His game-to-game consistency suffered, but he was still the deadliest weapon on the field.
Provided that whatever team who decides to try to trade for him constructs and offense that facilitates getting the ball in his hands, there is no reason to think that he can’t continue to be a top-level performer on the field.
The greater issue might present itself off the field. He has already had on-field issues with Ben Roethlisberger, who is one of the top quarterbacks in the league. Imagine his frustration trying to work with somebody like Case Keenum.