The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: What is the most realistic trade value for Antonio Brown at this point?
It’s hard to imagine after yesterday’s public bid farewell and subsequent confirmation of a formal trade request that the Antonio Brown era will last much longer past the start of the new league year in mid-March.
By all public accounts, the Steelers have efforted to rebuild a bridge between themselves and Brown, who has seemingly wanted no part in any type of reconciliation, for whatever reason. And in the process—along with other things continuing to go on off the field—he has done damage to the potential compensation the team can get back for him.
But I am beginning to be of the belief that the threshold for compensation is becoming quite low in Pittsburgh. Similar to their willingness to accept a fifth-round pick in exchange for Santonio Holmes in 2010, in a trade that indirectly led Brown to Pittsburgh, the Steelers will in all likelihood be amenable to taking less than what brown is actually worth just to end the farce that this has become.
You can only do so much with somebody who doesn’t want to be a member of your group any longer. An NFL team is not a gang. Coercion accomplishes little, as we saw with Le’Veon Bell last year. We are well past worrying about setting precedents, to which Brown has always been an exception anyway.
With his numerous off-field incidents, his bizarre, anti-team behavior, his general unreasonableness, and evidently the apparent threat of wanting a new contract, we are already seeing hints of teams that might otherwise be in the market for him pulling themselves back and separating themselves from the ‘drama’.
But the Steelers have to unload the drama somewhere. There will be somebody who is prepared to accept all his baggage to contend with his skills. But what kind of bargain will they get as a result?