Antonio Brown Got Exactly What He Wanted... Leaving Pittsburgh Knocked Down Wondering What Just Hit Them
Article by: Justin Imler and Pete Caceci
After stirring up some major confusion with the apparent trade involving the Buffalo Bills, Antonio Brown has now officially been traded to the Oakland Raiders for a third and fifth round pick. Brown had made it clear that he wanted out of Pittsburgh. There has been a lot of reasons brought up as to what caused his downfall with Pittsburgh, ranging from feuds with QB Ben Roethlisberger, to simply demanding a new, much larger contract. In the recent weeks Brown had made it known publicly that whichever team he would be traded to, better have the money to pay him a new contract. Once all of these demands came to light, not many teams were remaining in the Antonio Brown sweepstakes, but one team was interested from the very beginning and that team was the Oakland Raiders.
Antonio Brown was traded to the Oakland Raiders for a 3rd and 5th round pick in this year's NFL draft. As soon as the trade was confirmed it was also announced that Brown would be receiving a new contract with the Raiders. The contract is a 3-year deal worth $54,125 million with $30.125 million of that being guaranteed. This ended up working out perfectly for Antonio Brown, who seemingly had all of the leverage throughout this entire situation. Brown was under contract with Pittsburgh for another three years so you would think that AB would have little to no power in where he would end up, but after being very public in the media, and demanding a new contract, his trade value was all but gone for most of the original teams that showed some interest.
Brown pretty much got everything that he wanted. Brown is now by far the highest paid wide receiver in football, and is on a new team with an offensive minded coach in John Gruden, and an established QB in Derek Carr. The Raiders added a dynamic playmaker in Brown while still maintaining their three first round draft picks, which is an absolute steal.
What the Future Looks Like for Pittsburgh
As a very passionate Steelers fan, waking up seeing what the team got in exchange for Brown is borderline embarrassing. The situation as a whole just blew up in the organization's face, and all you have in the end to show for it is a 3rd and 5th round pick? It's just ridiculous. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert has stated on multiple occasions that the team would only trade Brown if the offer was beneficial to the Steelers organization, and matched Brown's value. Well after looking at what actually went down, it's pretty clear that Colbert completely ignored these claims and simply just took the best offer available to get Brown out of town. All of Steeler nation was behind Colbert and everyone wanted to make sure the team got a fair deal, so to see these claims simply get thrown out the window was extremely disappointing.
At the end of the day I think I speak for all of Steeler nation when I say I'm glad this whole thing is finally over. Brown was clearly a very large distraction to the organization, and wanted no part of staying in Pittsburgh. This is not the only time Pittsburgh has had unnecessary drama. Their former running back, and 3-time pro bowler Le’Veon Bell, caused extra stress by refusing to be franchised tagged for a second time after demanding more than $17 million a year. He had previously stated that if he was to be tagged, he would sit out the following season or possibly retire. He would keep his promise, missing the entire 2018-2019 season.
So now that both Brown and Bell are moving on, it seems like the Steelers can finally get back to being a TEAM again, and not having all of these distractions revolving around just a single player. After this deal with Brown was made, he will still account for $21 million of Pittsburgh's cap space for this coming offseason. This obviously doesn't help the team in terms or trying to fill some holes in their defense, as well as trying to replace Brown. A few free agents that I would really love Pittsburgh to sign would be WR Golden Tate and safety Tyrann Mathieu. These are two guys who Pittsburgh could sign short term to fill some gaps, and avoid breaking the bank. Golden Tate has already taken to social media to hint at having interest in joining Pittsburgh, so that's not a bad start in finding a potential AB replacement to run opposite of Juju Smith-Schuster.
However, I think Pittsburgh's biggest need is a cornerback to run opposite Joe Haden, and I expect them to fill this need with the 20th pick in this year's draft. I'm a big fan of LSU's Greedy Williams and Georgia's Deandre Baker, and I expect one, if not both, of these guys to be available when it's time for them to make their selection.
My Thoughts Now That AB is Finally Gone
I've always been someone who's believed that professional sports is a business. So if a player isn't happy, or wants a trade then that's fine, but I'm not a fan of how Antonio Brown went about this at all. There's a right way and a wrong way to go about demanding a trade, and I just think Brown did all of the wrong things to really limit his trade value, and limit the pool of teams that ended up being interested in the receiver. With all of that being said, I'm not going to sit here and continue to go after Brown for everything.
I do think that to a certain degree QB Ben Roethlisberger could be a better leader for the Steelers. I've never been a fan of him calling out his receivers publicly so I can understand why this bothered Brown so much. I also haven't been a Tomlin fan for the last few years, so after hearing some of Brown's comments about the coaching staff and upper management of the Steelers, this really had me asking a lot of questions, and I don't think his comments should be ignored. At the end of the day though I ultimately think Brown blew a lot of things out of proportion to simply force the Steelers hands, and get a trade done ASAP, but I don't think he was simply making things up without any facts behind them.
So Who Wins?
It's pretty clear the Antonio Brown ended up winning in this situation. He got his money, and a fresh start. The Raiders are also pretty clear winners in getting the guy they wanted while also being able to keep all of their valuable draft picks. I'm sure the Steelers are happy to just be able to move on from Brown, but pretty much everyone is saying that they got taken advantage of, and that's really hard to swallow. It will be very interesting however to see how Brown will adapt to his new surroundings, with a coach who has recently come out of retirement, and with a quarterback who does not have the elite experience that Roethlisberger has. Only time will tell if this move was worth it, for both parties. For now though, I'll speak for all of Steeler nation one last time in this piece and say two words, good riddance.
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