Following yesterday’s comments from Steelers owner Art Rooney, it’s not a question of if, but which team the Steelers will trade troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown.
If you’re expecting a deal to happen in the very near future, that’s not going to be happening. As we highlighted yesterday, the NFL trading period for the upcoming season doesn’t start until March 13. The other important date is March 17 which is when Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus. Trading him before the 17th would mean that Brown’s new team would be responsible for paying him this money.
What this all means is: look for Brown to be dealt sometime between March 13 and March 17.
Regardless of the soap opera and off-field issues that Brown brings with him, he’s still an elite wide receiver that will bring on-field production to any team that he’s traded to. The question now is which teams have a need for a top receiver, have the cap space and more importantly, have the assets to make a trade for Brown?
What Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin will be looking for in return isn’t known but it has to begin with a high draft pick (or picks). The Steelers need to add young, impactful talent and the best way to do that is through the draft.
Let’s start off with teams that I can’t see the Steelers willing to deal Brown to or wouldn’t have a need for: New England, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Dallas, NY Giants, Minnesota, New Orleans, Atlanta or LA Rams.
That leaves plenty of other teams and here are some teams that could make sense:
Carolina: Panthers have been looking for a #1 receiver for Cam Newton ever since the departure of former perennial Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith. The Panthers will have the #16 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
NY Jets: Aside from secondary and quarterback, the NY Jets need talent at almost every position. Getting an established star like Brown for Sam Darnold to throw to makes a lot of sense. Plus, the Jets have a ton of cap space available. The issue however could be what do the Jets have to offer? They have the #3 pick in the draft and no chance they’ll give that up for the 31-year old Brown.
San Francisco: Like the Jets, the 49ers make a bunch of sense. They’re a team with some young talent and Kyle Shanahan needs to acquire some weapons for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. But like the Jets, San Francisco will draft high (#2) and won’t give that away for Brown. Can something else be worked out?
Buffalo: The Bills may be the team that needs a play-maker. They have their franchise quarterback but have very little of anything on the offensive side of the ball. Although they can use him, would the Bills take a chance or bringing in someone that can potentially ruin and bring a cancer to their locker room. The Bills have the #9 pick in the draft.
Oakland: This could be the team to watch. Doesn’t Brown and his baggage just seem like the perfect Raider and a perfect match for Jon Gruden? After a disasterous 2018 and the permanent move to Las Vegas on the horizon, Raiders need to make a splash but also need to win. With Amari Cooper getting dealt, Derek Carr needs some help. The biggest plus for the Raiders is that they have assets in terms of draft picks (#4 and #24).
Indianapolis: The Colts have quickly built a good, young, talented team and pairing Brown with Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton would make for a lethal offense. The Colts have plenty of cap room and will own a low first round pick.
Other Possible Fits: Detroit, Washington, Miami and Arizona.