Written By: Roy Countryman @PreacherBoyRoy
With the announcement of the meeting between Steelers Team President Art Rooney II and Antonio Brown taking place today with the outcome of them mutually agreeing to part ways after 9 years of a highly successful partnership, we are going to go through the possibilities and exam which teams will be at the forefront of acquiring AB’s services through a trade.
We will start with all 32 teams, and eliminate suitors as we go. We will separate these teams into various tiers to get a better understanding. We first cross off the Steelers from that list, because of what transpired this morning. I also believe if possible the Steelers would prefer to trade him to the NFC rather than the AFC.
Not Gonna Happen
New England Patriots
Reasoning: Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated already has reported that the team will veer away from any offer from an in-division rival or their arch nemesis the Patriots. Somewhat short sighted to limit your market, but it is not surprising because the Steelers don’t like the idea of having to face a familiar foe with a talented skill set twice a season or late in a playoff matchup. So mark these four suitors off the list.
27 Teams left in the pool…
Highly Unlikely to be Interested
Too Little Cap Space
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Los Angeles Chargers
Already invested heavily in their WR corp.
Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Rams
New York Giants
Reasoning: Brown’s cap hit is $14.1 million for the 2019 season if traded before March 17th, and the first nine teams listed all are under $20 million in cap space going into the offseason and would leave those teams too cap strapped to sustain his salary and still go improve other areas of the roster. Teams such as the Saints, Chargers, and Vikings also have quality WRs on their rosters as well, and the Buccaneers are coached by Bruce Arians who has butted heads with AB in the past and wasn’t his biggest supporter while in Pittsburgh so cross them off the list. The final 4 teams have some cap space to work with, they have more than $20 million to work with, but need to address other positions than where they already have quality players in place.
So we are now down to 14 teams remaining...
Teams that will show Minimal Interest
Reasoning: All the teams left have over $30 million in cap space, so money is not a huge factor left, now we are looking at the tradeable assets that could be moved in consideration with what players are already rostered. The Cowboys just invested a first round pick in a trade for a WR in Amari Cooper, and they are facing a massive amount of players who are going to be rewarded with hefty second contracts so I see that taking them out of the equation. The Broncos are set to acquire a veteran QB in Flacco, but they already have a similar WR on the roster in Emmanuel Sanders who is well paid and seems to have a soured relationship with AB as well as a young crop of WR that have talent where they may steer them away from Brown. The Titans don’t have an alpha WR on the roster, but I see them as being more of a run-heavy offense that doesn’t place as high of a value on the WR position. The Cardinals have the living legend in Larry Fitzgerald, but outside of him and David Johnson are in a major rebuild, and the Lions are in the same boat and I don’t see them trading away draft capital from their efforts to restock the cupboard.
5 more teams down and we are down to the real teams with a chance to acquire AB!
The Final 9
These teams all have the financial flexibility to acquire AB, with all of them having at least $35 million to work with initially at the onset of the offseason, with that variable out of the way we will focus on what each team has to make a trade and why they would be interested.
The Colts have over $100 million in cap space, a young nucleus of talent, and a finally healthy franchise QB that led them back to the playoffs in 2018. Brown is a tireless worker and expects his teammates to work as hard as he does, which would be no problem for a Frank Reich team. Having T.Y. Hilton across from him as well would lead to defenses choosing who to double cover, and would lead to historic numbers for Luck in my opinion. The Colts also have a great assortment of draft capital at their disposal as well that is highlighted by a late 1st Rd Pick, two 2nd Rd. picks, and a host of mid to late round picks.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown to Colts for 1st Rd #26, and a Conditional 2020 mid-round pick.
New York Jets
The Jets have over $95 million at their disposal and are coming off the first season with what they hope is their franchise QB of the future in Sam Darnold. Adam Gase is a good offensive mind, and there is not a ton of WR talent on the roster outside of a young TE in Herndon and an injury prone Enunwa. Getting Darnold a talented pass catcher would help accelerate his learning curve quickly.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown to Jets for Leonard Williams, DE and a 3rd Rd #68.
Almost $90 million in cap space, check. Young, franchise caliber QB, check. Stud WR who excels at making plays in the second phase of plays? You can see the similarities in skill set between Josh Allen and Big Ben as they have mobility and love to push the ball downfield, this marriage would drastically improve the WR room in Buffalo, and help give Allen a chance to show what kind of passing ability he truly has in year 2.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown to Bills for Matt Milano, LB, and a 3rd Rd #75.
With over $75 million in cap space, a young playmaker at QB, and a staunch defense why would the Texans not want to bring a star WR to line up opposite of the marvel that is DeAndre Hopkins. Tony Toe Tap, and the One Hand Catch Specialist this would be must-see TV. Brown would fit in well into this offense because of the way Watson like to roll out of the pocket or make plays off script, which AB has had experience playing in an offense that is similar with Big Ben. The leaders in that locker room with Hopkins, Watt, and co. I believe would be able to sustain the ego of AB as well.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown and the Steelers 4th Rd. pick to Texans for 2nd Rd Picks #53 and #54.
The Raider are flush with cap space sitting with over $70 million cap space available, and have a plethora of draft picks at their disposal due to some house cleaning of their own from previous regimes. Gruden has long admired Brown’s work ethic, and has gone so far as to compare Brown to Jerry Rice in terms of work ethic and talent which I am sure is music to AB’s ears. Derek Carr played well down the stretch with little to no talent at the WR position, and AB would be in for a ton of targets in this offense. This is one of the best fits on paper out of all these teams and would help establish the type of work ethic that Gruden wants in his type of players.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown to Raiders for 1st Rd #27 overall and a 5th Rd. Pick.
San Francisco 49ers
The Apple of AB’s eye and the team his hero Jerry Rice played for are definitely interested in his services. They have over $65 million in cap space to work with so no problem there, and there is a glaring need for WR to help take some pressure off of All-Pro George Kittle. This is one of the odds on favorites to make a deal because it hits the preference of getting AB out of conference and on a team that should be willing to send a nice package back for an established receiving presence.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown to 49ers for 2nd Rd. #36 and a conditional 2020 mid-round pick.
The Seahawks have over $50 million in cap space and are coached by Pete Carroll who encourages his players to let their personality out and also is one of the best coaches at maximizing potential. Russell Wilson plays a similar style of football as Big Ben going off script and throwing the ball downfield for huge gains. I think this is a tremendous fit emotionally but I question if Brown would be happy being thrust into a run-first offense where he would be sharing targets with Doug Baldwin and an emerging Tyler Lockett.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown and a 6th Rd. pick to Seahawks for 1st Rd. #21 overall.
Green Bay Packers
The buzzworthy team that Field Yates has been talking for AB on ESPN and Twitter. This would be a very intriguing fit to place AB with. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best QBs in the game and is at his best pushing the ball vertically which AB could help with. With Randall Cobb continually fighting off injuries and a free agent and having a crop of young unestablished WRs this move makes a ton of sense to help out Davante Adams out wide. They have the cap space as well with over $35 million space available. Let’s see if Brian Gutekunst will stay aggressive and go against the ways of how the previous regime worked in acquiring outside talent.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown to Packers for 1st Round #30 and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR.
On the surface, Miami doesn’t seem like they could fit him in their budget with only a little over $10 million in cap space, but there are a lot of moving parts in play to there cap situation. Like Ryan Tannehill being cut or traded and a number of veteran players that are sure to get the ax under this new regime. Without an established QB on the roster, AB may not be thrilled about going to this team, but I believe with the proximity to his offseason home, and the ability to be the guy while they build an offense around him would damper some of that merit. This would be an interesting fit especially if AB could also swing some interest from Le’Veon Bell to come join him down in Miami.
Best Offer: Antonio Brown to Dolphins for Xavien Howard, CB.
As a Steelers fan this article pained me to write, but as the front office has come to terms with a trade, it is now time to focus on the greatest value you can bring back, and if there is any comfort for a Steelers fan it is that this talent evaluating staff can find talented WR’s.