The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season may have ended when they failed to make the playoffs, but the drama surrounding the franchise is far from over.
Star wide receiver Antonio Brown is the latest Steelers player to voice his frustration with the franchise, as the 30-year-old has reportedly requested a trade from the only team he’s ever known. Brown’s problems with the club were evident all year, yet things came to a head when he was deactivated in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals due to disciplinary issues.
The Steelers are in the unenviable position of either trading one of the best players in the NFL or holding on to him despite the existing tension with head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and Brown tweeted a video on February 12 thanking the Steelers for his nine years there.
According to NFL Network, the Steelers have “begun telling that the trade market is moving quickly and to give their best offers ASAP.” ESPN has pegged the number of interested teams at six or seven, with the trade expected to happen by Friday, March 8.
Reports came out early Friday morning that indicated the Steelers and Buffalo Bills were nearing a deal that would send Brown to Buffalo, but it’s since fallen through. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Brown was unwilling to go to Buffalo and wouldn’t have reported to the Bills. Prior to the news, the Bills were +2000 to land him.
Where will Brown go?
Sportsbook is offering odds on which team Brown will suit up with in Game 1 of the 2019 season, with the Oakland Raiders as the +350 favorites.
The Tennessee Titans (+550), Arizona Cardinals (+750), Green Bay Packers (+1000), San Francisco 49ers (+1200), Cleveland Browns (+1200), Indianapolis Colts (+1200), Steelers (+1200), Dallas Cowboys (+1400) and New York Jets (+1400) round out the top 10.
Brown raised eyebrows on social media when he expressed interest in the 49ers via a tweet from San Francisco Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle, and Brown has since followed the Niners’ team account on Instagram as well as other players on the club.
Drama was a theme of Pittsburgh’s season
Pittsburgh is no stranger to internal drama, as running back Le’Veon Bell’s decision to not report to the team in 2018 and decline to sign his one-year, $14.5-million franchise tender hung over the Steelers for the majority of the campaign. For a betting breakdown on where Bell could be headed next season, click here.
Unlike Bell, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, Brown is entering the third year of a five-year, $72.7-million extension that’s already been restructured once. The Central Michigan product has a salary cap hit of $22.1 million this year, and if he’s off the roster, the Steelers will be forced to take on $21.1 million in dead money.
The shop is even offering a prop on whether or not AB will retire before the start of the 2019 NFL season, with the odds on him walking away at +750 and the option on him returning to the league at -2000. At 30, it seems unlikely he'd retire, but we've seen many star players retire in the prime of their career over the years.
Where do you think Brown will end up? Is he bound for a divorce with the Steelers, or will Pittsburgh somehow find a way to patch things up with its frustrated superstar? Have your say in the comment section below.