The marriage between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Antonio Brown has seen its share of ups and downs. It produced some exciting moments, such as the helmet catch that propelled the Steelers to Super Bowl XLV, and the “Immaculate Extension”. The worst moment occurred prior to the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, when he allegedly stormed off the practice field, no-showed an MRI, and left the game at half-time.
While Brown’s had other team related incidents in the past, this latest is the most severe, and has people calling for the Steelers to trade him. Divorces can be messy and complicated, and the effects can linger for years. Ultimately though, the best ending is for the Steelers and Brown need to settle their differences.
Why The Steelers and Brown Need to Settle Their Differences
The NFL is about one thing and one thing only nowadays……winning. People want results now, and anything short of a Super Bowl title is unacceptable. Steelers fans desperately want the elusive seventh Super Bowl title. Why? Because they don’t want to be climbing that “Stairway to Seven” forever. Most importantly though, they want it before anyone else, mainly Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. For those in favor of trading Brown, the Steelers will fall further away from that coveted seventh title without him on the roster. Despite what you think about Brown’s escapades, the offense would suffer noticeably without him, because he is just as valuable without the ball in his hands as he is with it.
Winning is the biggest reason the Steelers and Brown need to settle their differences. Brown has helped them win a lot of games over the last six years with 686 receptions for 9,145 yards and 67 touchdowns. His presence on the field opens things up for everyone and has helped JuJu Smith-Schuster become a star. Antonio Brown not only catches passes, but is an underrated blocker as well. His work ethic and desire to win is second to none as is his willingness to take young receivers under his wing. For all the distractions he has caused, the fact is, the benefits of having Brown on the roster far outweigh his liabilities. Thankfully Art Rooney II, like his father and grandfather before him, knows this and isn’t prone to knee-jerk reactions. Rooney II’s best option is to have a private meeting with Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Brown, and someone like Cameron Heyward and settle this issues once and for all.
What Trading Antonio Brown Would Mean
The impact from trading Brown would be significant. The first thing the Steelers would immediately miss, aside from his 104 receptions, 1,297 yards, and 15 touchdowns, would be his overall impact on the offense. Brown opens things up in the passing game for everyone else. Smith-Schuster benefited the most from the double and triple coverages that Brown drew. Without Brown, Smith-Schuster will draw that coverage, meaning someone else will have to step up and be a solid number two receiver that can pick up the slack.
The Steelers never really found a reliable number three receiver in 2018, so it would be extremely critical that James Washington make a huge leap in his development to take on the number two role. If Washington didn’t work out, then what? If the Steelers decide that trading Brown is necessary, hopefully it would be sooner rather than later, since the number of favorable trade partners is limited.
The Bottom Line
The easiest thing for the Steelers to do is trade Brown and deal with the dead money associated with such a move. However, that’s not necessarily the best move. Personally, it makes more sense to keep him than it does to pay for Brown to play someplace else. With a trade, There’s no guarantee of getting equal value in return, or anything that could help the Steelers win more often in 2019. Is the satisfaction of dumping Brown worth more than finishing 2019 with a potentially worse record?
If the goal is to get better and win another Super Bowl before Roethlisberger retires, it makes no sense to get rid of a player that was recently voted the second best player in the game by his peers. While trading Brown would eliminate some distractions, it makes more sense to for the Steelers and Brown to address the core issues and settle their differences.