The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to have a deal in place by tomorrow to send Antonio Brown somewhere when the new league year starts on the 13th. Reportedly, their asking price remains fixed at a first-round pick, and they have advised interested parties to present their best offers right now.
At least one Oakland Raiders beat writer, Jerry McDonald, doesn’t expect them to be that team. Which is kind of a problem, because it’s hard to envision any other team realistically being willing to part with a first-round pick in exchange for Brown and all the complexities that that introduces off the field.
McDonald argues that this Raiders regime, with Jon Gruden now paired with his hand-picked general manager, Mike Mayock, whom he really wants to work with and give a fair chance, it taking the long-view approach to this roster, geared toward building through the draft, rather than by bringing in older veterans as a temporary solution.
He says that this was already established when they chose to deal Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears for two extra first-round picks they have at their disposal, a trade that they had been roundly criticized for making.
“All signs point to a draft and develop stage for the Raiders”, he wrote. “If the price drops and there is a fire sale, things could change. Hard to see Pittsburgh dumping Brown with a $20 million cap hit and not getting at least a first-round pick in return, though”.
And you couldn’t blame them for that approach. It’s not the sort of move that the Steelers would make. They literally have not traded a first-round pick since the late 1960s, in the pre-Chuck Noll era. Oakland can add some serious talent with the extra draft picks that they have accrued, provided that they are allocated wisely.
Not only is Pittsburgh’s asking price too high, so is Brown’s, McDonald writes. “Gruden loves the way Brown works”, he noted. “But he’d heard nothing but good things about Mack, was looking forward to coaching him, and was resolute (along with the rest of the front office) in letting him walk rather than getting the franchise overextended whether you agree with it or not”.
It’s true that Gruden has frequently raved about Brown, most recently late last season when his Raiders hosted the Steelers. He talked extensively about how much he admired watching him work during training camp and in practices while he was in the Monday Night Football booth.
The final factor the Mercury News writer highlights is the influence of Mayock as the new general manager. “Gruden truly wants Mayock’s input”, he writes. “If Gruden’s knee-jerk reaction would be to bring Brown aboard, Mayock’s job would be to point out the pitfalls and perhaps remind the coach that life with Keyshawn Johnson wasn’t all that grand”.
McDonald lays out a compelling argument for why it doesn’t make great sense for the Raiders to make the trade. With that said, however, that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Whether it’s completed by Friday or not, all options remain on the table until it’s reported otherwise.