I think it’s fair to say that if the Pittsburgh Steelers really had their way, they would not be actively pursuing a trade to send their best player on the roster away, but that is the situation in which they find themselves on the eve of the start of the 2019 new league year, closing in on a trading partner for wide receiver Antonio Brown.
There have been several false starts along the way, apparently most recently a possible scenario in which he would have been traded to the Buffalo Bills, but he reportedly killed that trade himself by essentially letting it be known that he would not report if that were the case.
But even he said that something might be happening within the next 24 hours, so perhaps today is the day that a trade is agreed to. Brown will be ‘getting his way’, so to speak. And Mike Florio has a theory that the reason the Steelers have been obliging is because, perhaps, Pittsburgh is actually giving Ben Roethlisberger his way.
While he makes it abundantly clear that he doesn’t actually have any evidence to support his claim, he did remind that Roethlisberger was hinting around at retirement for a couple of years until the team chose to move on from offensive coordinator Todd Haley, with whom it was known that they had a somewhat turbulent relationship.
After Haley’s contract was not renewed, Roethlisberger seemed suddenly rejuvenated, reportedly letting the front office know that offseason that he felt like he could still play several more years—to the point where he publicly questioned the team’s backup quarterback strategy, drafting Mason Rudolph after having taken Joshua Dobbs the year before, and with Landry Jones seemingly already cemented as his hand-picked number two.
Florio also pointed to general manager Kevin Colbert’s comments from a couple of weeks ago in which he emphatically defended the quarterback and his right to speak out about team matters, even if that includes making public comments about individuals. He went so far as to say that Roethlisberger could call him out if need be.
“It’s the only explanation that would make the team’s willingness to comply with Brown’s wishes make sense”, he writes. “If this theory is accurate, the Steelers are complying with Roethlisberger’s wishes, making the team’s compliance with Brown’s wishes coincidental”.
Or, you know, they realize that there really isn’t any other wise course of action to take. Brown is basically declaring himself a locker room cancer unless he is sent to a locker room that he likes, and himself even hinted at the possibility of not playing at all, saying he’s achieved everything (except a title) and has nothing to prove to anybody.
If he is referring to the selectiveness of the trading partner, that part is simple enough as well—unless Brown goes to a team he likes, he’s clearly going to sabotage the deal. So the Steelers’ best bet to get the best value is to send him to a team he likes, because he’s shown no indications of being willing to reconcile, which he continues to make harder to do every time he speaks.