Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has been having issues behind the scenes, and the Cleveland Browns should obviously make a call about his availability.
Brown has been having issues with the Steelers for most of the 2018 season, including a tweet from Brown saying “trade me lets find out” – although Brown and his agent Drew Rosenhaus said that it was not a trade request, but a response towards a former Steelers staffer.
However, problems escalated leading into the Steelers must-win Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Brown reportedly “went off” on Ben Roethlisberger during a practice, and then Brown did not show up to practices or meetings the rest of the week, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
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Although it would be extremely unlikely the Steelers would trade a player the caliber of Brown to an in-division rival – or trade Brown to any team – general manager John Dorsey and the Browns should call Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert about Brown’s availability.
The Browns will likely be in the market for a wide receiver this off-season, as they do not have a true No. 1 wide receiver. Despite his pay, Jarvis Landry is not a No.1 wide receiver. Landry is one of the league’s best receivers, but he does not have the speed that allows him to create enough separation from a secondary focused on him.
If the Browns would be able to add a player of Brown’s caliber, it would give quarterback Baker Mayfield a reliable vertical threat, while also giving Landry the ability to play to his strengths in the short or intermediate parts of the field.
Brown is obviously more than a vertical receiver, as his crisp route running makes him a hassle for any cornerback. Brown has reliable hands, dropping only one of his 164 targets in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus. He can make plays all over the field, and his speed allows him to rack up yards after the catch.
The Browns have a solid group of receivers in Landry, Rashard Higgins, and Antonio Callaway. Breshad Perriman emerged for the Browns this season, but he is currently set to be a free agent. The Browns have said they are interested in bringing Perriman back next season.
Although all of the receivers have made plays, none of the Browns receivers are consistently making plays downfield like Brown can. Perriman and Callaway have the shown ability to be vertical threats, but they were both in short sample sizes.
If the Steelers were to trade Brown, they would obviously ask for a lot of assets in return. Not only is Brown one of the top-three receivers in the league, but he signed a contract extension in February and is under control until 2021.
Brown’s contract is one of the biggest reasons why it would be hard to see the Steelers trade the 30-year-old receiver. If the Steelers were to trade him, they would carry $21.1 million in dead cap in 2019, according to Spotrac. That is an astronomical number for any team to carry in dead cap for one player.
It seems unlikely that Steelers will trade Brown, and even more unlikely that the Steelers would trade him to the Browns. But for Dorsey, it may be worth the call. If the Steelers want to be done with the situation, they may feel inclined to trade him sooner rather than later. It probably won’t happen, but the Browns should call about his availability to gauge the possibility of a trade.
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