Following a season loaded with drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers, things turned publicly sour with wide receiver Antonio Brown after the year. So much so, that things took a huge step in the wrong direction. With rumblings of a feud between Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger previously noted, as well as the star wide receiver apparently being benched in the final game, it’s culminated in trade talks.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed that Brown has requested a trade from the Steelers. This came shortly after a post from the All-Pro wide receiver on Twitter in which he stated it’s “time to move on and forward.”
With the news of Brown reportedly requesting out of Pittsburgh, we’re going to take a look at a few potential trade fits both on need and those who have the salary cap for him. Obviously, requesting a trade doesn’t mean the Steelers will move Brown, but it’s still worth evaluating.
Top Trade Fits for Antonio Brown Based on Fit
Obviously, much of this comes down to the salary cap situations for teams, but a lot can be done to create space if Brown truly is on the table as a trade option. To start, I’ll look at a few teams who could be in the market for a receiver simply based on their overall need at the position. From there, we’ll evaluate at the salary cap outlook.
The Oakland Raiders, who sent Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys last season, should be a team to watch. With veteran Jordy Nelson under contract for one more season but his status with the team in 2019 somewhat unknown, the Raiders desperately need to add another wideout for Derek Carr.
The Miami Dolphins are also in need of a wide receiver, and he could be a good fit there for the 2019 season and beyond. DeVante Parker had fallen out of favor in town, but Adam Gase being fired could impact that, as he’s under contract for one more year, per Spotrac. Obviously, the quarterback position is more of a question mark in Miami than the one in Oakland.
It would likely be wise to look outside of the AFC if a potential Brown trade does happen, as the Steelers will surely want to avoid facing him. The Washington Redskins have question marks at receiver and while it’s unknown who will start 2019 at quarterback for them, upgrading at wideout should be a focus.
Then we dive into options such as the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals, who will need to update at a variety of positions as the 2019 offseason gets underway. Both teams are looking at top draft picks, but if they’re able to swing a deal to add a playmaker like Brown, it would immediately set them in the right direction.
The need at receiver for the 49ers isn’t quite as large as the Cardinals, but that’s only due to the fact that Larry Fitzgerald is set to become a free agent. If Fitzgerald either retires or isn’t back in Arizona, wideout becomes a position of major need for the Cardinals.
Trade Fits for Antonio Brown Based on Salary Cap Space
The big question for any potential trade involving Brown comes down to salary cap space of an interested team. The Steelers star has three years left on his current deal and they come with cap hit hits of $22.165 million (2019), $18.34 million (2020) and $19.54 million (2021).
Of the teams listed above, the Raiders, Cardinals and 49ers rank above league average in salary cap space for the 2019 season. But a few other teams who have the money are the Indianapolis Colts (over $122 million in space), New York Jets ($106.7-plus million), Buffalo Bills (roughly $86.3 million) and Tennessee Titans ($42.6 million), per Spotrac.
Options such as the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys also have the cap to afford Brown potentially, they either have other needs or big contract extensions to pay. Specifically with the Browns and Bengals likely have little chance to swing a deal, as the Steelers trading their star receiver within the division seems highly unlikely.