Antonio Brown, the star wide receiver who has played his entire career up to this point with the Pittsburgh Steelers, openly requested a trade last month, per CBS Sports, even going so far as to post a goodbye message to Steelers fans on Twitter and his other social media accounts.
Now, it sounds like the Steelers are getting ready to trade Brown. The Brown trade talks are “heating up,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Wednesday.
“Sources say the
#Steelers have begun telling teams that this is moving quickly and to give their best offers ASAP,” the reporter said. Rapoport added that the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals are both “out.”
In addition, ESPN’s Adam Schefter also tweeted on Wednesday that teams have been told that a Brown deal is expected to be completed by Friday.
The Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, and Washington Redskins have been mentioned as possible destinations for the receiver. The Raiders, coming off a losing season, have three first-round draft picks, which gives them more trade capital for a potential Brown deal than most other teams. The team’s quarterback, Derek Carr, said this week that he hopes his team pursues a trade for Brown, per NFL Network.
The Steelers are scheduled to pay Brown a roster bonus of $2.5 million on March 17, so they will avoid that payment if Brown is traded before that date. However, following the trade, the Steelers will have a significant amount of “dead money” on their salary cap.
Brown, per Deadspin, got into an altercation with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger prior to the last game of the season, which led to the wide receiver skipping practices and eventually being benched for the team’s Week 17 game, during which he left Heinz Field at halftime.
In a Twitter Q&A last month, Brown ripped Roethlisberger as having an “owner mentality.”
The Antonio Brown trade talks are reportedly “heating up” (or else the Steelers are just trying to shake the tree for more offers) https://t.co/3wxnfIu4TJ
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 6, 2019
“No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect!” Brown said of his relationship with his longtime quarterback.
Roethlisberger has been the Steelers’ quarterback since he was drafted by the team in 2004, having led contending teams with a revolving cast of skill position players, doing so with only two coaches, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, leading the team in that time. In addition to the conflict with Brown, another Steelers offensive player, running back Le’Veon Bell, held out for the entire season in 2018, after receiving the franchise tag from the team from the second straight year. Bell will finally reach free agency this offseason.