The past 36 hours or so have not been particularly kind of the Pittsburgh Steelers with regards to the reaction to their trade with the Oakland Raiders to send wide receiver Antonio Brown west in exchange for a third-rounder and a fifth-rounder.
For a perennial All-Pro talent at a premium position still playing at an exceptionally high level, that is a bargain price, but the Steelers were pressed to deal him. And as you might imagine, many players are reacting to it positively, because not only did he manage to get himself traded, he got himself paid.
In virtually unprecedented fashion. In spite of the fact that he still has three years remaining on his contract, the Raiders were willing not only to give him a raise that pays him nearly $3 million more per season, they also were willing to fully guarantee the majority of that.
If something like this has ever been done before, on the player’s terms, I’m not aware of it. It can be fairly described as a power play, and one that paid of handsomely for him, at least financially, with the other details yet to be determined…and of course, the trade is not going to be official for a couple more days still.
But while some players might be licking their chops, they ought to be forewarned that their scenarios are not entirely parallel. Brown’s situation was unique in many regards and greatly contributed to the method through which it unfolded.
In other words, don’t expect to see Brown’s feat duplicated, even if it may be attempted. For starters, you have to be really exceptional as a football player, and there only few who can rival the soon to be former Steelers wide receiver as one of the top non-quarterbacks in all of the NFL.
There aren’t many such players, for starters, who would have the sort of on-field cachet necessary to pull it off. They would also require a pretext for it. The Steelers gave him one. He was able to complain about his relationship with Ben Roethlisberger following a stupid comment he made on the radio, likely out of frustration. He built on an innocuous comment from General Manager Kevin Colbert to use it as an example of widespread disrespect.
He played the victim while he held the majority of the cards and projected just enough crazy to create some sympathy mixed with confusion. Basically, he did everything he could to make it clear to the Steelers that he wouldn’t cooperate with them anymore.
Why? Because they wouldn’t give him more money. Not because of Roethlisberger. Not because of any kind of disrespect. I’m quite confident he wouldn’t have cared about those things if Colbert were willing to rework the kid’s deal.
There are certainly lessons for other players to take away from Brown’s process, perhaps things that they can make use of themselves. But don’t expect it to become any type of norm as owners learn to adjust and counter.