Like it or not, the Antonio Brown saga is going to unfold as a marathon rather than a sprint, if not simply due to the fact that even if the Pittsburgh Steelers reach the decision that it is in their best interests to trade him, and even if they work out a trade in principle, we are still months away before anything official can be done. Even if they come out and say that they are not planning on trading him, the plans can change if the right offer is presented to them, as happened with Martavis Bryant last year.
So like it or not, the early portions of the offseason, at least heading into the start of the new league year, will inevitably include a lot of discussion about Brown and his situation with the Steelers, including any new information or substantial speculation that may arise.
One of the interesting nuggets that dropped yesterday came from Ian Rapoport as he was segueing into a segment on the NFL Network that included Emmanuel Sanders, the Denver Broncos’ wide receiver who spent his first four years in Pittsburgh.
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 may be one of the teams plotting a run at Antonio Brown”.
As you surely know, the Broncos have been busy kicking the tires around the Steelers so far this offseason. They already came very close to making offensive line coach Mike Munchak their next coach, and after they chose to go another direction there, they are reportedly continuing to pursue him for a lateral move to coach their offensive line.
But going after Brown could also make sense for them. They already traded Demaryius Thomas during the 2018 season, and Sanders himself is coming off of a major injury himself. Courtland Sutton had a promising rookie season, but he is not somebody to build a franchise around.
It’s worth noting that even as Sanders subsequently criticized Brown for his behavior recently with the Steelers, he also made sure to note that he didn’t think it would be a problem for other teams, and kind of threw out a hint about coming to Denver with him. Brown also liked a Tweet that Sanders made regarding the discussion.
Sanders and Brown came to Pittsburgh together as part of their 2010 NFL Draft class. Sanders was a third-round selection, Brown coming in the sixth round, but by year two, it was the latter—in part due to injuries for Sanders—who began to emerge.
Sanders would continue to play in Brown’s shadow for the next two years before finding great success himself with the Broncos, becoming a Pro Bowler in his own right and winning a Super Bowl ring. Perhaps he’s looking to finish his career with his former teammate now. And if Rapoport is to be believed, the Broncos may be interested in obliging that request.