By and large, the local Pittsburgh Steelers media has been on the ‘dump Antonio Brown’ beat for a while now, and that includes Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. So when Brown came out the other day and pretty much literally said his farewells to the fanbase, implying that he has played his last snaps there, he didn’t even bat an eye.
“To me, this wasn’t even news”, he told Mike Florio while appearing on Pro Football Talk Live recently. “I think he’s gone, one way or the other”. He also said that he doesn’t think there is any path for reconciliation at this point and that he would be surprised if Brown were on the Steelers in 2019 at this point.
“I know some of his teammates have said that they want him back and [team president Art Rooney II] said he would talk to the leadership, but I think this has reached a point of no return”, Bouchette added. “You take the best offer, provided that it’s not from the Baltimore Ravens or Cleveland Browns or Cincinnati Bengals”.
In other words, Brown is gone as far as Bouchette is concerned as long as anybody outside of the division is willing to take him on for some type of compensation. And Bouchette doesn’t even care how incredibly modest that compensation is.
“I hate to say it, but even if that’s a conditional seventh-round pick for 2020, you have to move on”, he said. “There’s been too much drama over the past two years. They didn’t make the playoffs last year. They still have a couple good receivers and they could pick up a third. Look at what New England has done with receivers through the years”.
It’s true that there is not a strong correlation between elite wide receivers and Super Bowl titles. By a very simple metric, I did a quick study last year and I found that there were only 15 Super Bowl champions who had a first-team All-Pro wide receiver the year that they won. The last time that happened was in 2006. The time before that was 1999. And the time before that was in 1994. Eight of the 15 came prior to the 1980s.
That said, losing an All-Pro wide receiver does not make you a more talented team by any stretch of the imagination. By skill level, trading Brown would not improve the Steelers on the field, but it could have a ripple effect that ultimately serves to the team’s advantage.
And the fact of the matter is that Brown might not give them much of a choice unless they’re prepared to get into yet another standoff with one of their star players, which I’m really hoping they’re not.