The Pittsburgh Steelers have no intention of releasing disgruntled wide receiver Antonio Brown, but a trade remains a possibility. Team president Art Rooney told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Gerry Dulac that “all other options are on the table.” Rooney also said it would be “hard to envision” Brown being with the Steelers when they report to training camp in July.
Time for at least a couple months of trade rumors!
It’s been a wild week and a half since the close of the season, with Brown deactivated for the finale due to an alleged incident at practice. Brown and 49ers tight end George Kittle had an amusing interaction shortly after the season ended, and later Brown started following the 49ers on Instagram. It seemed like trolling, and might very well have been, but the door appears to be open for something to happen.
If the Steelers elected to trade Brown before June 1st, they would take a $21,120,000 dead money hit and save $1,045,000 in cap space. If they traded him after June 1st, the dead money would be split so that $7,040,000 would hit the 2019 cap, and the remainder would hit the 2020 cap.
Post-Gazzette reporter Ed Bouchette broke down some of the reasons trading Brown would not kill the Steelers cap. Most notable for timing purposes is a $2.5 million roster bonus due five days after the new league year starts on March 13th. Trades cannot happen until the new league year starts, but teams will be discussing trades as early as the NFL Combine, if not sooner. A deal could easily get done in that timeframe.
Brown turns 31 in July, and his contract has him due $12,625,000 in 2019, $11,300,000 in 2020, and $12,500,000 in 2021. If a team swung a deal, they could work out a new extension with him, or just stick with the deal as is, knowing there’s no guaranteed money on it and you just ride it out to see if he keeps up his play.
If the 49ers wanted to try and do a deal, the question becomes what kind of compensation they would be comfortable giving up. Amari Cooper cost the Dallas Cowboys a first round pick, but Cooper is also younger. If the 49ers don’t want to give up the second overall pick, would Pittsburgh agree to a future #1? Or maybe it turns into later pick this year and a higher pick next year? This also depends on if they try and do a deal before the draft, or if they wait until after June 1st to lower the dead money hit. I don’t think they need to wait on the latter, but it depends on their plans for free agency this year.
Antonio Brown will be on which roster Week 1 of the 2019 season?
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