It’s been quite the week for Antonio Brown news. After a month of speculation regarding his future, this week brought a report of a domestic dispute in January. The police did not make an arrest, but it is safe to say the NFL will conduct some kind of investigation around it.
Prior to TMZ first reporting the incident, multiple media outlets offered up predictions for Antonio Brown’s future. ESPN had “ten bold predictions” and NFL.com had “nine headlines from ... the future.” Both involved Brown ending up with the San Francisco 49ers this coming season.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano predicted that Brown would lead the NFL in receptions this season with the 49ers.
The odds strongly favor Pittsburgh trading Brown this offseason. Releasing him would allow a conference rival like Baltimore or New England to get him, and that’s not in the Steelers’ interests at all. So shipping him off to an NFC West team makes more sense. San Francisco has the cap space to give Brown a new contract if he wants one, and there’s no doubt Brown knows all about what Julio Jones did in Atlanta two years ago as the No. 1 wide receiver in a Kyle Shanahan offense.
Jeremy Bergman got specific on a deal, predicting the 49ers trade Marquise Goodwin and a third round pick for Brown and a conditional sixth round pick.
This offseason’s No. 1 drama will broadcast its season finale in the third week of free agency and on the first day of the Annual League Meeting. After nixing offers from gentleman callers unwilling to part with a second-round pick for the mercurial Brown, Pittsburgh will finally find a trade partner in San Francisco. 49ers GM John Lynch will aggressively offer the Steelers the 67th overall pick in 2019, which is basically a second-rounder, PLUS the services of San Francisco’s current No. 1 receiver in Goodwin, while Brown travels to the 49ers along with a 2020 conditional sixth-round pick. The 49ers wideout said just last week that he saw himself as ”the A.B.” of San Francisco. With A.B. in San Francisco (well, Santa Clara), Goodwin’s services will no longer be necessary -- in fact, they’ll be desired by Pittsburgh, suddenly down a wideout.
My guess is Brown will not face any discipline barring something more coming out beyond this police report. But even if nothing comes of the investigation, this would seemingly impact both his trade value and the timing of getting a deal done. Interested teams might not be willing to risk the situation expanding into something more, while those that do stick around will likely try and use this as leverage for a lesser deal.
For now, we wait for the Combine, when trade chatter can pick up steam. If a high profile player like Brown is going to get dealt this offseason, normally it would be hammered out at the Combine. It could slide to later near the draft, but a high profile player usually gets dealt before big decisions need to be made in free agency. However, given the current situation with Brown, I really have no idea how long this is going to take.