- Antonio Brown has demanded a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but months later a deal has not been made.
- The Steelers were said to be discussing a trade with the Buffalo Bills, but Brown reportedly "nixed" the deal by saying he wouldn’t report to the Bills.
- Time is running out for a deal to be made, and the pool of suitors seems to be shrinking, meaning Brown or the Steelers will have to make a concession to avoid staying together for another season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and wide receiver Antonio Brown are running out of options and time if they want a split.
Brown has made clear his desire to play for a new team, dating back to Week 17, when he skipped Steelers practices and didn’t answer the team’s calls. He was benched for the team’s final game. He has since demanded a trade, criticized quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the team culture, and expressed his desire to be paid by a new team.
On Thursday, a deal for Brown appeared close, as several reports indicated that the Steelers were discussing a trade that would have sent Brown to the Buffalo Bills. The teams reportedly had nearly figured out trade compensation when the Bills backed out.
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brown "nixed" going to Buffalo during trade talks. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Bills GM Brandon Beane felt dealing with the question of whether Brown would show up to Buffalo was not worth it.
Brown’s leverage is becoming a critical factor in trade discussions. Brown told ESPN that he didn’t "need" football and would play only on his terms. That has seemed to affect some teams’ desire to trade for Brown, the high price notwithstanding.
Additionally, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Brown’s contract demands deterred some teams, namely the Oakland Raiders. Brown has base salaries of $12 million, $11 million, and $12 million over the next three years but no guaranteed money. His cap hit is $22 million, according to Spotrac. Brown has said he wants a new contract with guaranteed money.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that six or seven teams have the most interest in Brown. Schefter also said the Steelers told teams they expected a deal in place by Friday.
Time and options seem to be running out, however. Teams seem to be falling out of the running, whether over concern about Brown’s contract, the cost to get him, or the team fit. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky has reported that the Green Bay Packers — a team that could use a No. 1 wide receiver — are out, for example.
Both Rapoport and Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer have reported that the pool of teams is shrinking.
Any trade essentially requires Brown to agree to go to the team. If it comes down to it, Brown will have to weigh whether he’d rather be dealt to a team that isn’t high on his list or return to the Steelers. His cap hit makes it unlikely that the team would cut him.
The NFL draft is the backdrop to all of this. The Steelers need compensation for Brown. It seems unlikely that the Steelers would be willing to wait a full year for the draft compensation.
There’s plenty of time until the draft. But with the pool of suitors growing smaller, time may be running out on a deal.
- The 2 biggest QB mysteries in the NFL appear to be solved, and there could be huge implications for the rest of the draft
- The 29 athletes in the exclusive $200 million club for career earnings in North America
- The NFL world says the biggest debate of the NFL Draft is over after learning how tall star quarterback Kyler Murray actually is