And you thought you were going to make it your entire Saturday without hearing an Antonio Brown story. You’re wrong (and I’m sincerely sorry).
Today has proven to be a quiet day on the trade front after the Pittsburgh Steelers near deal to ship him to Buffalo and last night’s news that the organization was “close” to a deal. That obviously doesn’t appear to be true. While there is some level of interest from teams around the league, the biggest issue in getting the deal done appears to be Brown’s desire for a new contract. Specifically, becoming the highest paid receiver in the league. Again.
Per @AlbertBreer, an NFL team walked away from an AB trade because he wants “to be the NFL’s highest-paid receiver under a new contract.”
That would put soon-to-be 31-year-old AB at $18M+ per year at least.
How could any team justify spending a top-50 pick AND $18M+ AAS on AB?
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) March 9, 2019
That idea is echoed by CBS’ Jason La Canfora, who says a deal to Oakland probably would’ve been completed by now if not for the almighty dollar. He also notes the Philadelphia Eagles are in the mix, a relatively new team we’ve heard show interest.
Brown signed a $68 million contract extension in February of 2017 and is due to make a base salary of $12.6 million in 2018. He restructured his deal last March in order to give the Steelers short-term cap relief. AB is also due a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17th, the soft deadline for when the team would prefer to trade him by.
Odell Beckham Jr. is currently the league’s highest paid wideout, surpassing Brown with a $90 million deal signed last August. And Tyreek Hill is reportedly in talks with the Kansas City Chiefs for a record-setting deal. It seems Brown wants to top those marks, a tough sell for yes, an otherworldly talented player, but a 31 year old who claims he doesn’t need to play football but looking for a mega-deal.
Any team that does commit to giving Brown a deal isn’t going to offer the Steelers as much trade compensation, complicating the situation all the more. Right now, it’s unclear what teams are seriously interested outside of Oakland, who seems reasonably enthused at the idea, and which, if any, will pony up the money to placate Brown. Based on reports from the last week, we know the following teams are out.
New Orleans Saints
Green Bay Packers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Jets
And let’s add on the AFC North teams and New England Patriots, places we know the Steelers won’t send him, even if those teams offered.
New England Patriots
Tack on the teams that have the least amount of cap space, logical conclusions since Brown wants a new contract.
Kansas City Chiefs
Add them up and there’s 16 teams, more than half the theoretical suitors. You can assume there’s at least another ten teams who don’t have interest, it just hasn’t been reported or we know it doesn’t make sense (the Giants, for example), and whatever teams Brown would straight-up refuse to play for as he did with Buffalo. It whittles the list down to just two or three final contenders with Oakland seeming to be the heavy favorite.