Financial restrictions of Antonio Brown trade have been overstated
The Pittsburgh Steelers seem likely to at least explore the possibility of trading Antonio Brown this offseason, but there has been a lot of talk about the amount of money they would have to eat if they moved on from the star receiver. As it turns out, a lot of that talk has been exaggerated.
Earlier in the week, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell noted that the Steelers would owe around $21 million in dead cap money if they trade Brown before June 1. While that is true, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo explained on Wednesday how it only tells half of the story.
There are plenty of reasons for the #Steelers not to trade Antonio Brown — namely, he's really, really good at football — but "cap hit" talk is misinformed. It's basically a wash for 2019 and they'd gain flexibility in 2020-21. How you replace him is the issue. pic.twitter.com/6FucNjhfgP
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 2, 2019
$14m in cap from 2020 and 2021 would accelerate into 2019. $15m in cash and cap would come off. So no, nothing cap-wise would stop the Steelers from dealing Brown. https://t.co/EByXdCQvAk
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) January 2, 2019
In other words, the Steelers would also get plenty of salary cap relief from trading Brown, as some of the immediate cap hit would be the result of money from 2020 and 2021 being moved up to 2019.
There are a lot more details that are left for teams and agents to figure out, but the bottom line is Brown’s contract structure does not appear to make it any more or less likely that he will be traded. Rather, the bigger question will be whether he can smooth things over with head coach Mike Tomlin, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of his teammates. Brown is still a highly productive player who caught more than 100 passes this season, so parting ways with him would hardly be a simple decision.
All that said, there’s been plenty of reason to believe Brown’s relationship with his teammates is tarnished beyond repair. He also made it clear with his social media antics on Wednesday that he isn’t on good terms with Mike Tomlin. Those could ultimately be the reasons Brown is playing for a new team in 2019.