The chatter around Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown will not be dying down anytime soon. Brown posted a picture on Instagram that shows him wearing a 49ers uniform and pads and embracing Jerry Rice.
Rice has spoken about Brown a couple different times, including mentioning that the receiver wanted to play for the 49ers “really bad.” And naturally, Rice thinks it would be a good idea to add Brown into the mix for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Brown and Rice have limited say in all of this, however. The Steelers have control of this situation, and will have to decide if the right deal can be made. They are reportedly not getting the kinds of offers they were hoping for, with one previous report suggesting they thought they could get a first round pick for Brown. They have control over trading him, but when the rest of the NFL knows you might have to deal the guy, it becomes harder to get offers to your liking.
Any trade would not become official until the start of the new league year, but if Brown got dealt, it would not be the first time a deal has gone down well in advance of the new league year. The 49ers know this well, having dealt Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2013 NFL Combine. Smith was involved in another such deal last year, with the Chiefs trading him to Washington the week before the Super Bowl. The teams did not announce it at that point, but it was very much a done deal.
The 49ers have likely had some discussions with the Steelers at this point. I imagine a lot of teams have spoken to the Steelers to date. Everybody will be in Atlanta this coming week for the Super Bowl, and after that, the NFL Combine is the next time everyone is together. A deal could still get done in between those events, but a centrally located event helps grease the wheels a bit.