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There might not be a set of NFL players that wanted the 2018 season to be over more than the Pittsburgh Steelers roster. One of the most improbable seasons in their franchises history came to an end with dramatic fashion on and off the field.
The Steelers played a must win game versus the Cincinnati Bengals without All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, due to an apparent knee injury. We now know that Brown had, what was deemed, a “disagreement” with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the Wednesday walk through and didn’t attend practice again for the week.
The Steelers won the game, but did not make the playoffs for the first time since the 2013 season.
Brown reportedly yelled “I’m done”, stemming from a strained relationship with coach Mike Tomlin and Roethlisberger. Tomlin has received heat from the city and Roethlisberger may very well retire before next season starts, but Brown has had enough.
Maybe it should be Pittsburgh who should be fed up. Brown has been involved in all types of drama this season and has now been consistent in his diva-like behavior.
Can Pittsburgh possibly keep this guy in the locker room after all that?
If they keep him:
The team will have to chalk up the friction between him and Roethlisberger as “boys will be boys” or something of that nature. They would then have to throw Mike Tomlin under the bus as the “real” problem.
The Steelers would be showing their fans and the rest of the league that they covet Brown’s talent over anything else. Brown is the Steelers all-time leader in receiving yards per game averaging 86.2 a contest. He is second in Steelers history, trailing only Hines Ward in total receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns.
If they trade him:
This would show their fans and the rest of the league that Pittsburgh will follow their long time franchise plan of no nonsense, no tolerance for misbehavior. Brown’s attitude might be very hard to deal with. That kind of atmosphere might not be helpful to a young quarterback should “Big Ben” decide to retire.
Juju Smith-Shuster led the team with 111 receptions and 1,426 recieving yards amd Brown led the team with 168 targets and touchdowns with 15. Pittsburgh obviously thought about life after Brown, not necessarily due to behavior, but more so because of his age and salary.
He will be 31 by the time training camp starts next season and his current contract will run into the 2021 season. He will be owed around $47 million over the next three seasons.
If the Steelers can flip him for a draft pick now, it might be the best thing. Clearing up some cap space while gaining some young inexpensive talent is a great way to upgrade their roster overall. If you took a look at similar trades for top wide receivers, the Steelers could garner a nice bounty for Brown.
Who could they trade him too? Imagine Antonio Brown catching passes from another top quarterback in the NFL.
Russell Wilson catching him down the sideline or Cam Newton escaping the pocket and finding him wide open in the middle of the field. Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, even the great Tom Brady would salivate at having Brown on their roster.
If there is a veteran roster and a top head coach, then Brown might be the greatest trade you ever made. What about a young inexperienced roster, then maybe you keep your draft pick and build with youth.
Antonio Brown might’ve been the Steelers greatest wide receiver, he is certainly on pace to break all the records. The Steelers have a big decision to make and it could change more than one team’s future.