It’s been quite an interesting year for the Pittsburgh Steelers as there’s been drama left and right in the organization. Starting with Le’Veon Bell, who wanted a new and long-term deal, not playing the whole season. Then, the tie to the Browns followed with tough losses to the Broncos, Chargers, and Raiders, that caused some arguments between quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and rookie wide receiver James Washington. Finishing it all up for the Steelers, they missed the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record and with the last game of the year, star wide receiver Antonio Brown didn’t play due to an altercation with Roethlisberger in practice, which made Brown miss team practices and meeting.
Now it looks like Brown might not be a Steeler next year as team president, Art Rooney II said that it’s “hard to envision” Brown returning to the team for training camp in the summer. The Steelers have stopped waiting for Antonio Brown’s phone call ever since Brown requested a trade from the organization. Steelers are expecting many teams to call in for Brown, and they are seeking a first-round pick for the superstar receiver, but who has the best chance? Here’s my top 5:
New York Jets
The Jets are an up and coming team that could possibly take over the AFC East very soon. Now, we all know the Patriots rule that division, but their dynasty must end very soon as Tom Brady could retire at any year. Nonetheless, the Jets could be a Wildcard team if Tom Brady decides to keep playing for as many years as he wants. The Jets have young talent that can be worked around with new defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. Majority of the problems last year for the Jets was on offense as Sam Darnold started his rookie season rough, but eventually polished up and looks like a quarterback you can build a team around. The Jets have no true number one receiver as Quincy Enunwa is positioned as a number two, and Robby Anderson seems to be a slot receiver. According to OverTheCap, the Jets have $93.8 million in cap space for the 2019 season and they can easily take on Brown’s contract as he’s due $15 million in 2019 and $11 million in 2020. With new offensive-minded head coach, Adam Gase, making a move for Brown could get something going. Since the Steelers are looking for a first-round draft pick, I don’t think the Jets give up the number three overall pick, perhaps some future picks and later round picks. With new offensive-minded head coach, Adam Gase, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets make a big move.
Green Bay Packers
It seems like the Packers are in on every big player, which they are since they got cap space and draft capital, but they never pull the trigger. I will give the Packers the benefit of the doubt since they put up a good offer for Khalil Mack but got rejected since the Raiders thought the Bears first round pick would be better. Funny how that turned out. Well, this time the Packers have another good chance for a star. The Packers have two first round picks for this year’s draft, 12th and 30th overall. I don’t think the Packers trade that 12th since they need a pass rusher, but the 30th pick could be given away if the Packers decide to. Aaron Rodgers isn’t getting younger and this year showed he needs help besides Davante Adams and Aaron Jones for a Super Bowl run. The Packers hired Matt LaFleur and for the same reason as the Jets, a big move from a new head coach could be possible. The Packers have $40.5 in cap space, so the affordability for Brown can work, even if they decide to sign some free agents on the market. I think the Packers have a great shot for the superstar receiver if the Packers want to get back into playoff form.
The Colts have the biggest salary cap in the league with $117.3. So it looks like the money isn’t going to be an issue. The Colts were the only team to make the playoffs from this list and it’s scary to think they can only get better. Adding Brown to Andrew Luck’s list of receivers that already includes T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron would be deadly. The Colts can also easily trade their first-round pick as it’s the 26th overall and maybe a chance to trade away a couple later round picks. The Colts acquiring Brown would easily keep them as a playoff team and they’ll be able to compete with high powering offenses like the Kansas City Chiefs for the next few years.
San Francisco 49ers
This seems to be everyone’s favorite landing spot as Brown would be a nice target for Jimmy Garoppolo as they only have George Kittle. According to Hall of Famer wide receiver Jerry Rice, Brown wants to be with the 49ers “really bad.” The 49ers have the 2nd pick in the NFL draft, which I don’t see the 49ers trading away, so this might be another situation like the Jets where they would have to trade future picks and later round picks. The 49ers have the cap space of $62.1 million in cap space so adding more players to the roster in free agency isn’t a problem. The only issue for the 49ers is that if they want Antonio Brown, they might run into some issue with future contracts regarding their young talent.
This is a long shot for Cleveland to land Brown as they are divisional opponents with the Steelers, but I have a feeling the Browns are able to put something together so the Steelers have to do business. Getting a big target for Baker Mayfield and then forming an interesting combo with Jarvis Landry and David Njoku can make some noise in the AFC North as the Browns could be a team fighting for the playoffs in 2019. The Browns did a lot of trades that they benefited from last year as they went on to get Damarious Randall from the Packers and Landry from the Dolphins. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns continue their luck of trades in 2019. The Browns also have the 17th overall pick that could be a need for the Steelers if they choose to trade. The Browns are also near the top of the league in salary cap with $82.2 million. If the Browns somehow can get Antonio Brown, the Browns could be a force to be reckoned with.
This upcoming offseason could be crazy but we still have a long way to go to see where Antonio Brown will be playing next year as it looks like his time with the Steelers looks to be over.