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On Saturday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Steelers haven’t “closed the door on the thought of Brown playing for someone else” after he missed the team’s Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals following a rumored dispute with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh is thought to seek a “high pick” as part of any potential trade package, per Rapoport:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
From @gmfb Weekend: The #Steelers are expected to consider trade offers for WR Antonio Brown, and they will ask for a lot. As they should. https://t.co/C77EB3bJbl
The 30-year-old Miami native is coming off another terrific season with 104 receptions for 1,297 yards and a league-leading 15 touchdowns.
It was a campaign that also featured off-field issues, though.
In September, Brown responded to a Twitter post by a former Steelers staffer questioning his value to the offense compared to Roethlisberger by stating, “Trade me let’s find out.”
“It has now been made public that two lawsuits containing false claims have been filed against me,” Brown told reporters. “The facts will soon come out that prove my innocence. My focus will remain on football and I will not let the cases serve as a distraction.”
His contract could pose a hurdle in trade discussions.
He’s scheduled to count $22.2 million against the salary cap in 2019, and a deal before free agency would only secure $1.0 million for Pittsburgh in cap savings, per Spotrac. His dead cap figure would drop from $21.1 million to $12 million if the trade happens after June 1.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin refused to rule out a Brown trade during his season-ending press conference Wednesday, replying “certainly” when asked whether Brown’s “antics could outweigh his production.”
“I’m not speculating on what life is going to be like going forward,” he told reporters. “What I am going to do is address the circumstances and then move on from there.”
Tomlin said Brown has not requested a trade out of Pittsburgh, however.