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Rooney: Door remains open for Antonio Brown to return but ‘not that many signs out there that that’s going to happen’

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The Steelers team president said there have been no trade talks yet surrounding Brown.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have some things to figure out this offseason, and the biggest is what’s next with wide receiver Antonio Brown. An offseason after spending a couple years wondering what is up with running back Le’Veon Bell, they find themselves in a potentially worse situation with Brown. Bell was exclusively about money, while the Brown situation seems to be something else entirely.

Steelers team president Art Rooney chatted with local media on Wednesday and said that while there have been no trade discussions yet, it is not looking good for Brown to be on the roster next season.

I wouldn’t expect Rooney to say if there had been trade rumors. Teams cannot make trades until the new league year starts on March 13th. Trade talks happen before then, but it is one of those open secrets that the league pretends isn’t happening, but knows it is. Previous reports said trade talks would begin at the NFL Combine, when virtually every major decision-maker from all 32 teams is in the same place. That being said, I would be surprised if there weren’t some preliminary discussions before then in the casual environment of the Senior Bowl or Super Bowl.

It remains to be seen what a deal would cost or if one will actually happen, but the Steelers seem to believe they’ll have to do something at some point. Rooney said he has not had contact with Brown since the final week when everything went downhill in a hurry. I suppose it’s possible the relationship could get patched up at some point, but as it currently stands, it’s hard to see this thing getting worked out to a point where a trade does not happen.

The 49ers are viewed by various bookmakers as the odds-on favorite to land Brown. The 49ers need another weapon and Brown has not hidden his apparent desires to head to the Bay Area. In the meantime, it’s safe to say he won’t be heading to Tampa to re-join his one-time offensive coordinator, Bruce Arians.