Antonio Brown is moving on from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Weeks of rumors and assumptions finally came to a head last week when Brown met with Steelers’ owner Art Rooney II to make official what many had seen coming for weeks. The meeting ended with both men mutually agreeing it would be best for both parties involved for Brown to be traded to a new team this offseason. Thus, the question now shifts from whether or not Antonio Brown will be traded to when and, most importantly, where he will be traded.
Green Bay Packers
After his departure from the Steelers, many league observers have been wondering how Brown would adjust if he were to play with a lesser quarterback than Ben Roethlisberger. In this scenario, that is of no concern. Despite a statistical down year plagued by injury, a healthy Aaron Rodgers should have no problem of returning to his elite level of play. Pairing Brown with emerging wide receiver Davante Adams would give Rodgers arguably the best combination of receivers in the league, a terrorizing thought for league defenses. A trade to the Packers would also satisfy the Steelers desire to trade Brown out of conference to an NFC team. Although the Packers have been unwilling to trade for or sign marquee players in the past, changes at the general manager and head coach levels in the last two years could cause the Packers to break that trend and land Brown.
Powered by a resurgent Andrew Luck, a much-improved defense and first-year head coach Frank Reich, the Colts won nine of their final ten regular season games to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in three years, even winning a playoff game on the road against the division rival Houston Texans. However, as presently constructed, they do not look ready to take that next step. Adding Brown could change that. Pairing him with T.Y Hilton, red-zone threat Eric Ebron and a more than capable rushing attack should allow Frank Reich to build on last season’s success and give Luck another elite weapon at his disposal. Brown could propel the Colts back to the AFC championship or even the Super Bowl. While trading Brown to the Colts would be an in-conference move, the Steelers should entertain a proposed trade if the Colts gave them the best value on a trade.
San Francisco 49ers
Part of the reason for Brown’s departure from the Steelers was due to his unhappiness with Roethlisberger as well as head coach Mike Tomlin. Brown’s antics have taken place for years, and this recent episode has further served as a reminder of just how petulant Brown can be. A solution to this problem for Brown and the team that trades for him is to make sure he’s happy there. After the season ended, Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice revealed in a radio interview that he had a conversation with Brown and indicated the Steelers wide receiver wanted to play for the 49ers. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. He wants to come here really bad,” Rice said. Despite the 49ers be- ing the least sexy option on this list, it ultimately could wind up being the best landing spot for Brown if he truly wants to go to San Francisco.
In terms of football pieces, the 49ers have young potential stars in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle, who broke the single season receiving yards record by a tight end in only his second NFL season. The combination of Garoppolo and Brown would give third-year head coach Kyle Shanahan an offensive threat the 49ers haven’t had in years. The double teams Brown would most likely draw would alleviate pressure on the rest of the offense and allow others like Kittle to have a much easier time against opposing defenses. Regardless of which team Brown ends up with, though, he is sure to be an immediate contributor to any offense he joins.
Contact Zachary Schiller at [email protected]