All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown is currently a Pittsburgh Steeler and he will continue to be one for at least a few more weeks. Brown, who met with Steelers’ ownership to discuss his future, will be in another team’s uniform next season. The question is “which one?”
Brown’s run-ins with Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are well known by now. Neither was anywhere near the meeting Brown had with Steelers president Art Rooney II, general manager Kevin Colbert, and team executive Oma Khan last week. The meeting ended with both sides agreeing to part ways. So, where does Brown go from here?
Down by the Bay The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of salary cap room and a desperate need for a big-time wide receiver. The team’s leading receiver a year ago was a tight end – George Kittle. Kittle set an NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,377 and combining him with Brown could make for an unstoppable offensive attack.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo should be healed after missing most of last season with a knee injury and head coach Kyle Shanahan is well known for his ability to be creative on offense. Brown has already tweeted a picture of himself in a 49ers uniform. A trade to San Francisco would make sense for Pittsburgh. The Steelers would prefer to send Brown to the NFC.
Across the Bay If not San Francisco, then maybe Brown heads to Oakland where Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has been stockpiling first-round draft picks. Oakland has three – yes three! – first-round picks in this year’s draft. Gruden could use one of those and get Brown in a Raiders uniform. Oakland needs a big-play receiver after trading away Amari Cooper to Dallas at midseason.
Or Maybe a Different Bay? Pairing Brown with Davante Adams would give Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers the ammunition he needs to get the Packers back to winning NFC North titles. Besides Adams, the Green Bay receivers have a difficult time carving up defenses. Brown would solve that problem. The Packers, like the Raiders, also have something most others do not – two first-round draft picks this season. Pittsburgh will be asking for at least one first-round selection for Brown.
This Would Be a Surprise Imagine Andrew Luck throwing touchdown passes to Brown in Indianapolis. Yeah, sounds crazy, but it is entirely possible. The Colts head into this offseason with more salary cap space than any team in the NFL. They could easily take on the remainder of Brown’s contract – three years, $38.925 million – and give him what he wants. Brown wants guaranteed money and the Colts could restructure his deal to give him more money up front. The Colts could put more money in a signing bonus, guarantee the first year, add more years to the deal, or whatever they want.
Other Possibilities There are a few other teams that could be possibilities for Brown. Arizona could surely use a receiver of Brown’s caliber with Larry Fitzgerald nearing the end of his career. Miami would make sense since that’s where Brown is from. Plus, Brown had more receiving yards in 2018 (1,297) than the Dolphins’ top two receivers (Danny Amendola had 575 and Kenny Stills 553).
While those teams are possibilities, there are a handful of teams that have no chance at landing Brown. The Steelers will not trade Brown to a team in the AFC North (Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland) nor will they send Brown to the Patriots. The Steelers face their division rivals twice each season and they definitely do not want to make the best team in the AFC any better.