The Antonio Brown news cycle continues, with this week bringing an update from Art Rooney II. The Steelers owner pointing to the All-Pro wide receiver having potentially worn out his welcome has ignited trade rumors.
An interesting team has emerged on that front. The Broncos are a team to keep an eye on as a Brown suitor, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). While mentioning cap-rich teams like the Colts, Jets and 49ers as potential Brown buyers, Rapoport notes the Broncos may be “plotting a run” at the superstar wideout.
Teams eyeing Brown may not have to fork over an Amari Cooper price, either. Rival GMs expect a second-round pick and possibly some additional compensation being enough to get a deal done, RapSheet adds. Brown’s four-year, $68MM deal, and perhaps the way his 2018 season ended, may well give teams caution despite his obvious superiority to Cooper as a player. The Steelers may well approach teams in trade talks, per Rapoport.
By the end of the regular season, the Broncos were reeling at receiver. They traded Demaryius Thomas and saw Emmanuel Sanders go down with a season-ending Achilles injury. But they do have Sanders’ contract on their books for one more season.
Sanders and Brown were both 2010 Pittsburgh rookies and played together until 2013. Sanders has been an essential part of Denver’s past five passing attacks and was on pace for another 1,000-yard season prior to going down. Sanders, 32 in March, is a year older than Brown (31 in July). He does not expect his former teammate to be a Steeler next season (Twitter link). But with Sanders set to make a non-guaranteed $10.15MM in 2019 and Brown tethered to a wideout-record deal ($22MM-plus ’19 cap number), Brown-to-Denver is a curious fit. Unless the Broncos are planning to replace Sanders with Brown.
The Broncos do have rookie contracts comprising the rest of their receiving corps and stand to hold more than $45MM in cap space, with some possible cap-casualty contracts — like Brandon Marshall or Ronald Leary — on their books. But reuniting the former Steelers teammates would tag the Broncos’ payroll with a historic cost at this position, even if it would mean a far more potent passing attack than what recent Denver teams have possessed.