There are reports that Antonio Brown is unhappy and may have demanded a trade. However, it would be very hard for the Pittsburgh Steelers to financially pull that off.
The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind for the Pittsburgh Steelers. From the report that Antonio Brown left practice after a tirade to the report that he demanded a trade, life has been shaky at the South Side facility.
It is worth noting before moving on that there are conflicting reports as to whether or not Antonio Brown demanded a trade. The first report was from Jason LaCanfora that Brown demanded a trade. The next came from Ian Rapaport saying that in his tirade on Wednesday he told them to trade him, but that it was informal during a heated exchange and not a demand to the organization.
Nonetheless, there are issues in paradise.
The Steelers are always going to side with their quarterback. Every franchise would. LaCanfora noted part of Browns frustration is that Tomlin is on the side of Roethlisberger too often.
However, in this situation Roethlisberger and Brown are going to need some marriage counseling because the Steelers cannot trade Antonio Brown.
It is extremely simple. Brown has a $21.1 million dead cap hit this season. That is the price that the Steelers must pay on their salary cap if he were traded or released this offseason. They would also have $14 million in 2020 and over $7 million in 2021.
The Steelers would save about $1 million in the process, but no team is going to pay Antonio Brown $21.1 million to play for another team. The only capital they could fit back with their cap savings would be a heap of draft picks. There is not a number of draft picks the Steelers could get back that would be worth it because they are in win-now mode with Ben Roethlisberger.
They also could not acquire a player for Brown, because they do not have the cap space to make up the money.
The only way in which Antonio Brown would be traded is if he restructured his salary. That would feature Antonio Brown paying money back to the Steelers, and forfeiting guaranteed money. He would do that to play for a team that he does know how he would fit, or even which team it would be yet.
This is not happening either. It is tough to see a world in which Antonio Brown is not on the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019. Financially it would be a terrible decision for the Steelers, and on the football field, they could not fill his shoes fast enough.
The good news for the Pittsburgh Steelers is that they have over six months away from the stress of the game. These players can take their time, calm down and try to put it together for another run with a potentially upgraded roster. They have no other choice.