Where is Antonio Brown's Next Stop?
Antonio Brown will end up in the Hall of Fame, that isn't an opinion, it's a fact. He's arguably the best wide receiver in the league and quite easily one of the top ten of all time, probably breaking the top five. He's the former sixth-round pick who has changed the position, cast all doubts about his size aside and played every second of his career with a chip on his shoulder.
He's amassed over 11,000 yards and 74 touchdowns, earning him four first-team All-Pro selections, seven Pro Bowl invites and a host of other awards. He's also developed a reputation as a diva and a locker-room poison.
After public fallouts with his coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger he's done the impossible and become the most disliked man in Pittsburgh, quite a feat given the year Le'Veon Bell had. Brown appears to be the bad guy in this story but it's difficult to get to the truth of the matter. What we do know for certain is that he's met with Steelers president Art Rooney and has asked to be traded. His value is still uncertain and feels like it's dropping with every fresh media outburst. Here are the rumored spots which he may land at before the 17th March, when the Steelers will be due to pay him his $2.5m roster bonus.
After the NFL Combine Ian Rapoport tweeted three of the teams that he'd heard linked to Antonio Brown. Unsurprisingly the Raiders were amongst them. The Raiders have a treasure trove of picks, including three in the first-round of the upcoming draft. Not only that but with a move to Las Vegas in the offing next year they'll be desperate to enter that market with a big star.
The Raiders may be able to offer Brown the money and status that he desires but in footballing terms it doesn't look likely that they'll be challenging for the Super Bowl any time soon. There's no doubt they'd like him to fill their Amari Cooper shaped hole but would he want to play for Jon Gruden.
The charm offensive is on and Patrick Peterson amongst others has hinted that they'd welcome Brown. New HC Kliff Kingsbury would clearly like to find a replacement for Larry Fitzgerald, who surely cannot continue to defy time much longer. A new number one receiver to pair with the ever-young Fitz and sophomore Christian Kirk would be the perfect help for Josh Rosen, with the young QB in dire need for more weapons.
John Elway is believed to have taken a break from dreadful quarterback evaluation in order to try and lure the 30-yeear old to Denver. If Antonio Brown had grown tired of one aging QB on the decline in Pittsburgh then surely he's not ready to spend the rest of his career being underthrown by Joe Flacco on go-routes.
Corey Davis has shown glimpses of the talented that saw him drafted in the first-round but like every young player in Tennessee he has failed to live up to his potential. Is this him? Is it due to Marcus Mariota's stagnation? Maybe it's even a systemic problem. Whatever the answer there is no doubt that the Titans' top brass would happily grab Antonio Brown.
They have a lack of cap space and a quarterback who may never return from injury, but in Dan Snyder they have an owner that can't be relied upon to do the sensible thing. From a footballing perspective Brown would be the ideal acquisition given the dearth of talent in Washington's locker room. Jamison Crowder is heading to free agency and neither him nor any of his teammates managed to top 560 yards last season. Brown himself managed only one less touchdown last season than every single receiver on the Redskins roster combined.
San Francisco 49ers
This appears to be Brown's number one landing spot, you'd hope so at least, given the amount of social media flirting that's been taking place over recent weeks. Brown has even gone as far as to like a picture of him Photoshopped into a 9ers uniform. The chance to work with Kyle Shanahan would surely appeal to Brown, and the 9ers with Jimmy Garoppolo at QB and an early pick in this year's draft could be quickly turn to contenders if they invest in their defense and are luckier with injuries in 2019.
New York Jets
He could head to NYC and join forces with his former teammate Le'Veon Bell, who seems to be heading to the Jets if you ask anybody in the know. It's believed that they'll have nearly $100m in cap space, so a move to pair two thirds of the "Three-B's" with Sam Darnold. If the Jets and Knicks both managed to acquire a pair of stars this off-season then maybe New York will finally be out of its sporting slump. No, not you, Yankees fans.
It's not going to happen, general manager Chris Ballard has been consistent in saying that the team aren't interested in anybody who could disrupt that young and promising locker-room. Let's be hypothetical for a minute though, they have the most cap room in the league, and the thought of Brown lining up alongside TY Hilton to catch passes from Andrew Luck, would strike fear into any defense. If this trade happened then you'd have to imagine the odds on the Colts winning the Super Bowl would shorten hugely in seconds.
Where he won't be going...New England Patriots
The Steelers wouldn't trade a virus to New England, let alone a wide-receiver who'll be a first-ballot inductee to Canton but wouldn't it just be so Patriots to somehow nab another talented but troublesome receiver to fire whatever remains of Tom Brady to another couple of Super Bowl rings.
By Sam Farley