Antonio Brown watch didn’t have much new info on Saturday, but since things are picking up that the Pittsburgh Steelers are considering their options, I wondered: what would you give up for the guy if you were the San Francisco 49ers?
Ian Rapoport said that the Steelers were looking for a first round pick to part with Antonio Brown. That’s already far too steep where the 49ers are in draft positioning, but maybe a 2020 pick could suffice if that’s the hard line for bargaining. I still think a first round in general is far too expensive for Brown.
Brown is 30 years old and turns 31 in July. That’s usually the age when things start to slow down. I say usually because everyone’s different. Jerry Rice played into his 40s and Anquan Boldin signed another contract after being traded to—and being productive with—the 49ers during a season he turned 34. On the flipside, Pierre Garcon is 31 and had flashes in 2017, but his 2018 was an absolute disappointment. Can Brown play late into his 30s? I don’t know, but that’s a risk. The 49ers would be giving up prime real-estate and their future for a guy who on the back-cusp of his prime.
There’s also the contract. If traded, the Steelers wipe a million off the books, but the 49ers are saddled with some $15 million+ per year contract for the next three years with bonuses and incentives per Over the Cap.
Next, there’s Brown’s play. His numbers 2018 were really good (15 touchdowns, 1297 yards), but there were plays (before everyone overreacts, I say ‘plays’ as in a very small amount) he looked lethargic and didn’t put any effort in. This is a small amount, but still concerning. I do base a lot of his success in the league with hard work. I like comparing his rookie season to 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis’ and pointing what Brown’s hard work got him and that Pettis could follow that route. He also has a Hall of Fame quarterback throwing him the ball (who he is currently in a feud with). I’d also be curious how Brown functions in a west coast system as opposed to one like Todd Haley’s (where he had his monster numbers).
Finally, the situation is concerning. Sure, it has nothing to do with the 49ers right now, but what if something like what happens in Pittsburgh, happens in Santa Clara? What if Kyle Shanahan or Jimmy Garoppolo say the wrong thing and Brown turns around and the same drama happens? Terrell Owens is a great example where everywhere he went he overstayed his welcome. So the 49ers would give up a first round pick for that contract, age, and the good faith that this situation was poorly handled by the Steelers and Brown wouldn’t cause problems with them. But they’d also get one of the best receivers in the league.
That’s an awful lot. What would I give up? I have the unpopular opinion here and know someone (maybe the 49ers) will pay the premium. But I, based on where the 49ers are drafting in 2019, would give up a 49ers 3rd round pick, a possible later round pick to go along with it, and swapping positions in the second round. Anquan Boldin was dealt to the 49ers for a sixth round pick—which was more a favor than anything else. The Oakland Raiders traded Randy Moss to the New England Patriots for a fourth round pick after he had a bad season (though the Minnesota Vikings shipped him to the Raiders earlier for a first-rounder and change). A first, or a second seems too steep. And even this package I propose seems like a bit much.
Do I want Brown? Oh...sure! I’d love to have him and see him in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. When all this started going down, I hoped the 49ers could do their due diligence. I also know that their picks are valuable and giving up a first round pick is far too much for the reasons outlined above. You’re giving up a lot of the team’s future for a three year, multi-million dollar contract and hoping he doesn’t break down at 33. After complete negotiations, if the 49ers could give up a middle-second round pick, I’d be fine with that, but they pick at the beginning of the first round, the second round, and the third round. The Dallas Cowboys also gave up a first for Amari Cooper, but Cooper is young, that pick is in the back-end of the first round at this point, and Cooper has another year on his rookie deal. Most likely the 49ers could maybe give some middle ground.
One more thing on Moss to contradict myself—when the Vikings sent him to the Oakland Raiders, they got a linebacker and the Raiders’ first rounder (seventh overall). But again, Moss was younger.
Me, if I’m a GM? I’d give up a third and possibly swap 2nds. This is also why I’m not a GM.
Ok, what would you give up for Antonio Brown?