The good news is that, technically speaking, the Pittsburgh Steelers only need one team to really want to trade for Antonio Brown in order to get that job done, and it seems as though the Oakland Raiders, who traded for Martavis Bryant in exchange for a third-round pick last year—and who have three first-round picks at their disposal—may be that team.
The bad news is that it also seems as though almost all of the other teams that have been linked as expressing interest or possibly being interested in Brown have either had those reports refuted or lost interest when they were told what the asking price was—currently a first-round pick, according to reports.
Adam Schefter previously reported that of the teams who expressed interest in Brown, there were three in particular who stood out, those being the Raiders, the Tennessee Titans, and the Washington Redskins.
Subsequent reports have also connected the Denver Broncos, the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Jets, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the San Francisco 49ers. Many of those teams have had local reporters refute their interest, or have reported that they did show interest but chose to move on due to price or similar concerns.
Ian Rapoport did say that there are several teams “monitoring” Brown, but we are now only a week away from the start of free agency and 11 days before his roster bonus is due, so they can’t spend too much time in the monitoring phase if they are genuinely interested.
Piecing all the reports together, it seems as though it is the three teams that Schefter reported who remain in contention, with even Rapoport, who seemed to be throwing darts at the wall, acknowledging the interest of Tennessee and Washington, though he said in both cases that the financial cost is a concern to those franchises.
At this point, I think the Raiders are the only team that would be willing to give the Steelers a first-round pick for Brown, and they may want a mid- to late-round pick back in exchange. That’s a deal that I would do at this point, because I don’t see the market getting any more robust over the course of the next week.
The week of the Combine was the time for teams to declare their interest. While there was some growth in the market, and some clarification of what the realities might be, it’s unclear if we will really see a ‘bidding war’ situation that will drive the price up to a straight-up first-rounder.
It has been Brown himself making it all very complicated, from his behavior to his reported desire to get a new contract. He has scared some teams off entirely, while others have to be conservative with what they’re willing to pay to take on the risks he presents.