As exciting as it might be to imagine superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown in a New England Patriots uniform, it will never happen… and here’s why.
The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be stuck in a never-ending vortex of drama and distractions.
First it was Le’Veon Bell playing with the hearts of Steeler Nation, the subject of constant conflicting reports all year long on whether he’d ever report to the team. Then, just as it seemed the Bell soap opera was ending (and poorly for the Steelers, we might add), Antonio Brown’s name started popping up in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
He had in-game sideline tiffs with Ben Roethlisberger, teammates, and coaches that would have made Odell Beckham Jr. proud. In response to reports criticizing his value to the organization, Brown simply tweeted out “trade me.” He didn’t show up for practice in the final week of the season, sat out the Steelers’ all-important Week 17 game, and then suggested for most of the past few months that he wanted out of Pittsburgh, even going so far as to drop cryptic hints about his preferred destinations through social media postings.
And then on Tuesday, he made it official: publicly requesting to be traded via a goodbye message to Steelers fans he posted on Twitter.
It might be tempting to envision the possibility of Antonio Brown in a Patriots uniform next season.
After all, the team needs a vertical threat to stretch opposing defenses and take some pressure off Brady and the underneath short-to-intermediate passing game. Brown would immediately fill the role of an ‘X’ receiver on the outside, and would give Brady and Josh McDaniels the home-run threat they imagined Josh Gordon would be when they picked him up from the Browns in 2018.
Unfortunately for the Patriots and their fans, though, it simply doesn’t make sense for a marriage between Brown and New England.
First of all, the team doesn’t have as much cap space this year as they normally seem to. As things currently stand, the Patriots rank No. 24 out of 32 teams in terms of salary cap flexibility, with about $15 million in available funds right now.
Brown is due to earn just under $13 million in 2019. Even if New England restructures a number of its contracts and makes several roster cuts, it’s nowhere near as well-positioned as teams like the Colts, Texans, and 49ers are with regards to absorbing Brown’s remaining contract figures.
Secondly – and more importantly – there’s no good reason why the Steelers should send Brown to the Patriots.
Out of all the teams in the NFL, New England represents the greatest threat, year in and year out, to the Steelers winning their seventh Super Bowl. If they’re going to trade him anywhere, they’d presumably like to send him to the NFC, and as far away as possible… which is why the 49ers make so much sense.
Bitter as it may be to accept, Patriots fans shouldn’t be holding their breath waiting for news of an A.B. trade to Foxborough anytime soon.