Written – February 13th, 2019
Yesterday afternoon Antonio Brown announced that he wants to part ways with the Steelers organization and be traded elsewhere. It has been much speculated over the recent months, dating back to the last week of the regular season. After having Le’Veon leave them for nothing, the Steelers must do whatever they can to do whatever they can get for Antonio Brown. Many might say that with Antonio publically demanding for his trade brings his value down extremely, but I disagree. Brown is signed through the 2021 NFL season, meaning that the franchise trading for him isn’t getting just a rental. I expect him to still garner close to 1st round value through picks, especially for teams looking for a Super Bowl push. Luckily for them, he is debatably the best wide receiver in the NFL today, and every team that can pay for his talents will be calling Pittsburgh in the next coming days. Here are a few teams I think that should really consider trading for the All Pro wide out this off season.
San Francisco 49ers
Let’s get the obvious one out the window first, the San Francisco 49ers. George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Richard Sherman all shot their shots at Brown on Twitter, leading to Brown following the 49ers on Instagram. This one has been made pretty clear throughout the media as his preferred landing spot, but really could be the worse trade partner out of the list. If you look at what the Steelers need the most and then what the 49ers would have to offer, they don’t exactly line up eye to eye. San Francisco currently has the 2nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but even Antonio Brown isn’t going to be enough to steal that away. The 49ers have spent their last three 1st round picks along the defensive line, and still have yet to fall in love with any of them. If San Fran would be willing to trade one of them away, which i’m sure they would be, we now have a backbone to begin this trade.
Why it Works for San Francisco
First off, it is someone that AB wants to be, and that could be a huge factor in not just the trade, but his on the field performance as well. Kyle Shanahan is still looking for his Julio Jones for the 49ers, and that is something extremely hard to draft. By trading for Antonio Brown, Shanahan can kick start his offense into gear and figure out what Jimmy Garoppolo is really about. I am not a firm believer in Jimmy G, but he is working with a mind that gave Matt Ryan an MVP, another quarterback I am not a firm believer in. The 49ers already have offensive weapons like Marquise Goodwin, Jerick McKinnon, Dante Pettis, Matt Bredia, and possibly the best tight end in the NFL in George Kittle. With a little more help in the free agency market to help prop up the offensive line, and the 49ers could be looking at a solid starting point for the Shanahan era.
Why it Works for Pittsburgh
The Steelers need help in their secondary, will need to find a new second receiver with Smith Schuster moving to their number 1, and could use some looks at revamping their offensive line. If you look at the 49ers, they really just have defensive linemen, and draft picks as solid draft assets. They have 3 first round defensive linemen, and are rumored to looking at getting another one on the edge. Package together something like Solomon Thomas, or Arik Armstead, and their 2019 second round pick, and I believe the Pittsburgh Steelers would have to start listening to the trade talks. This second round pick would be the 34th overall selection and could easily find talent with that pick whether it be a receiver, cornerback, or offensive lineman. Once again, this isn’t too pretty of an option for the Steelers, but Brown might have twisted Pittsburgh’s arm too far by this point.
Even to me, this team seems like an oddball but the Colts have the most money to spend this year in free agency, and are coming off a surprising 10-6 season. Indy could potentially make things very interesting not just for the AFC, but the NFL if they look to make a trade to bring in AB. Andrew Luck has been playing with one of the weakest receiving groups in the league, and adding another weapon for him should be paramount to the franchise. They have enough money that even after acquiring Brown’s contract, they could still go out and sign defensive free agents to add to an already growing defense. If Indy can go out and get a guy like Brown, that could attract names like Tyrann Mathieu, Trey Flowers, or even Earl Thomas to come join the Colts in 2019.
Why it Works for Indianapolis
First, I want to say this would pair long time childhood friends Antonio Brown and T.Y Hilton back together, and that is something I have wanted to see since 2014 when I first learned about it. I feel like coming from a locker room that clearly just got stale for the star, landing into a locker room with someone he trusts is a major upside. Not to mention completely LAUNCH Indianapolis back into yearly Super Bowl contention for the next 3 or so years. T.Y Hilton is a great receiver, but Andrew Luck has never had a weapon like Tony Toe Taps before. With Brown coming off a career 15 touchdowns in 2018, Luck could put up stats to really push for an MVP in 2019.
Why it Works for Pittsburgh
This is where things start to get murky for this scenario. Personally, I don’t see too much the Steelers could want from the Colts. They do own 2, 2nd round picks, and do have money to replace a player like Malik Hooker who would garner interest from the Steelers. This would also keep Antonio Brown in the AFC, something I am sure the Steelers would rather not have that happen. Overall, this trade would more likely be to build towards a complete rebuild rather than a “revamp” as I like to call it. If they could leave with multiple 2nd round picks, and possibly something added with minor contracts, Pittsburgh might be forced to be happy with a deal like so.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are the biggest oddball within my list. Not only does the franchise really stay away from major offseason signing, and trades, but they have the least to really give up. While they may not have many players they would ship away, they do own 2 1st round picks in the 2019 draft. Mix in one of their young corners in either Jaire Alexander, Kevin King, or Josh Jackson; that could be just enough for the Steelers to team him with Aaron Rodgers, and Co. This could be the best situation for Pittsburgh to get a 1st round pick back for their wide out.
Why it Works for Green Bay
There is growing concern that it might be time to blow things up over in Green Bay, but this could be their finally push with Aaron Rodgers still at quarterback. Pairing one of the best quarterbacks of all time, with one of the best wide receivers of all time, can only spell great things for the Packers, right? Similar with how the 2008 Patriots did when they went out and got Randy Moss, I think this duo could put up record numbers. The Packers already have an amazing wide receiver in DaVante Adams and putting Brown opposite of him will only open up his game even more. Even more intriguing would be how Aaron Jones’ game would open up now that defenses will not be allowed to stack the box at all with those two on the outside. Overall, this trade would be a dream come true for Matt LaFleur, and Packers fans everywhere.
Why it Works for Pittsburgh
With the pressure from the fanbase, front office, and factor in a 1st time head coach, and you could be looking at this situation a lot differently in a few months Steeler Nation. All three of the names I listed above have the potential to be a #1 corner for Pittsburgh, and while a 1st round pick is nice, the Steelers could have a chance in finally getting a starting level corner they have desperately needed for a few seasons now. JuJu Smith Schuster was a 2nd round steal, and even AB was found in the 5th round. The Steelers could easily capitalize once again in a draft littered with complimentary receivers in rounds 2, 3, and 4.
If you read this far, I first want to say thank you, and secondly, here comes the wild part of my sports brain. The Arizona Cardinals are huge in the news right now for trading Josh Rosen to draft Kyler Murray, but I really haven’t heard this scenario at all so tell me what y’all think on the thread for this article! This would require some major shifting, but it could work out as potentially the best package for both parties. Kliff Kingsbury is a dynamic offensive mind, and could possibly maximize the rest of Antonio Brown’s potential as he start his decline from his prime. If the Cardinals were to give Josh Rosen, and a 2nd round pick in this year’s draft (the 33rd overall pick), would that be enough for the Steelers to let go of their All-Pro wide receiver?
Why it Works for Arizona
First, toss in Josh Rosen into the mix and I believe the Steelers would be more than interested at this point. Not only does he sweeten the deal enough to not have to throw a first round pick in, but this allows Kingsbury to start anew at the quarterback position. Aka, draft Kyler Murray. After the trade, Kingsbury could be looking at an offense staring Kyler Murray, Antonio Brown, David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Christian Kirk to put the cherry on top of everything. That is a scary line up for a new age NFL offense, and personally, love the idea more and more I think about it. Kirk could learn from 2 of the best wide receivers of all time, while taking major slack off Kyler Murray during his rookie season. With the threat of Murray’s elite mobility, it will open the run game for David Johnson to try and make a return to elite status.
Why it Works for Pittsburgh
The Antonio Brown trade request is going to be the straw that breaks this franchise into a revamping stage. With no Le’Veon, and now seemingly no AB, with an aging Big Ben, this offense is heading in a rough direction. Turning their unhappy wide out into a former 1st round pick, and possible replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, really could be the best possible situation for the Steelers. With the Ravens closing in on finishing their revamping of their own roster, and the Browns now becoming a relevant franchise, Pittsburgh needs to act fast before they find themselves tumbling down the AFC Power rankings.