Now that the Steelers officially are trying to trade Antonio Brown (not to be confused with the six weeks during which they were unofficially trying to trade him), what happens next?
By preventing Brown or his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, from talking to other teams, the Steelers control the process, making their compensation the first order of business, instead of the contractual adjustment that Brown clearly wants. Obviously, however, it’s going to take both to get the deal done.
It’s also going to take a team that believes the benefits of Brown’s skills outweigh the potential risks. Risks that, for example, he will behave in a new city the same way he behaved in Pittsburgh. Risks that multiple off-field incidents, from the alleged furniture-throwing lawsuit to an alleged domestic altercation, may lead to a suspension. Risks that his recent social-media habits aren’t just an effort to get out of Pittsburgh but a Charlie Sheen-style #tigerblood meltdown that will continue once he’s in a new city.
Regardless, he’s now available for any team, if that team is also willing to pay him. Early speculation has centered on teams like the Jets, the 49ers, the Raiders, and the Packers. The Steelers surely are counting on multiple teams entering the bidding, in order to drive the price as high as it can be.
However it plays out, Brown will receive a $2.5 million roster bonus on March 17, which means it likely will play out by then (unless he agrees to delay the date of the payment). The most important question is whether the Steelers will take what they can get, or whether they have a minimum expectation below which they’ll simply keep him.
If it gets to that, look for more tweets and videos from Brown that are aimed at forcing his way out of town, with the strategy continuing until he can claim that he is truly #winning.