Antonio Brown

AFC Notes: Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Broncos

The Jets have “massive buyer’s remorse” after signing cornerback Trumaine Johnson a five-year, $72.5MM deal last offseason, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Johnson, who had been franchise-tagged by the Rams in both 2016 and 2017, is now the NFL’s second-highest paid corner behind only Josh Norman. While he may not have played like a No. 1 CB last season, Johnson’s numbers were much improved from 2017. After ranking as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 60 corner in 2017, Johnson finished 24th in PFF’s grades last year. Football Outsiders, meanwhile, ranked Johnson as a bottom-10 corner in success rate in 2017, but 30th in 2018. Gang Green can’t realistically exit the Johnson contract until after the 2019 campaign.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Steelers appear set to explore the trade market for wide receiver Antonio Brown, but the return for the superstar may not be as lucrative as Pittsburgh hopes. Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (video link) surveyed multiple NFL executives and reached the conclusion that the Steelers are likely to receive something in the neighborhood of a third-round pick in exchange for Brown. While he’s still among the NFL’s best pass-catchers, Brown is heading into his age-31 season and will be due north of $15MM in 2019. Additionally, it’s fair to wonder if some rival clubs are skeptical of Brown given his recent off-field antics. Earlier today, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert made it clear that he won’t simply give Brown away.
  • Speaking of embattled Steelers, kicker Chris Boswell is likely to face competition in training camp following a down 2018 campaign, as Colbert indicated to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). Boswell only converted 65% of his field goal attempts last season, a percentage that ranked him 30th among kickers. He’s due a $2MM roster bonus on March 15, and the Steelers are presumably willing to pay that total given that Colbert says Boswell will be at training camp.
  • Cornerback Jimmy Smith could be a potential cap casualty as the Ravens move forward this offseason, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Smith is scheduled to count for nearly $16MM on Baltimore’s salary cap in 2019 (the highest figure on the club and second-highest among NFL corners), is now 30 years old, and has missed 13 games over the past three season due to injuries and a suspension. The Ravens have plenty of cornerback depth to withstand the loss of Smith (Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Tavon Young), but he’s still playing at a high level.
  • The Broncos have begun negotiations with offensive lineman Billy Turner, and he may be the sole member of Denver’s unrestricted free agent class that will reach an agreement before the start of the new league year, writes Mike Klis of 9News. A former third-round pick of the Dolphins, Turner signed for $2MM last offseason and should receive a salary bump this year. He played 76% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps a year ago, and could return either as a starter or a valuable reserve in 2019.

Latest On Steelers, Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown is on the trade block, but the Steelers won’t just give him away. When speaking with reporters on Wednesday, GM Kevin Colbert made it known that the Steelers will only consider offers with significant draft capital in return. 

By no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Colbert said (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com).

That same message has also been relayed directly to Brown and his camp, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com tweets. Brown, she hears, has been advised to stop airing his grievances in public and to stop hurting his trade value. Ultimately, if the Steelers cannot trade Brown, they say they’ll keep him under contract and aim to mend fences.

“We will not be discounting you on the trade market and we certainly will not be releasing you,” Colbert said of his message to Brown. “All of that being said, we will take a positive approach and if someone has a sincere interest and want to make a move – either a significant pick, set of picks, significant player, and picks, and we think it will benefit the Pittsburgh Steelers in the long run, then we are all in. If not, then we will make that decision at that point.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Steelers Agree To Trade Antonio Brown?

Antonio Brown‘s meeting with Art Rooney may lead to a divorce between the two sides. At the meeting, which was later joined by agent Drew Rosenhaus, GM Kevin Colbert, and executive Omar Kahn, everyone agreed the trade will be for the best,” a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). 

With that, the Steelers have more or less promised to find Brown a suitable trade. However, Brown has not been given the OK to speak to other teams, Mike Florio of PFT hears.

No trade can become official until March 13, but the Steelers can work out a tentative deal with another team between now and then. For example, the Ravens and Broncos shook hands on the Joe Flacco trade last week, though that trade will not be official for a few more weeks.

If Pittsburgh deals Brown before March 17, it would saddle the franchise with just more than $21MM in dead money. That number rises to $23.2MM after St. Patrick’s Day, because of a $2.5MM bonus due that day. A trade after June 1 would allow the team to avoid absorbing that cap hit all at once. No trade can be finalized until March 13, when the new league year opens.

Despite friction with key Steelers figures and being overshadowed by JuJu Smith-Schuster at times last year, Brown earned his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl selection as he caught 104 catches, 1,297 yards and a league-leading and career-high 15 touchdowns. The future Hall of Famer has been consistently dominant since the 2013 season and remarkably healthy in that span, too.

Even though he may have some red flags, Brown is unquestionably the hottest player on the trade block at this time. Of course, Odell Beckham Jr. could give him a run for his money in that regard if the Giants truly decide to shop him.

Brown has scared off at least one interested team with his tweets and he still may have to answer for a January domestic dispute. We’ll soon find out how badly those red flags will impact Brown’s market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Peter King On Brown, Clowney, Murray

Antonio Brown has scared off at least one interested team with his tweets, Peter King of NBC Sports hears. The Steelers star hasn’t been shy about airing his dirty laundry over social media and King suspects that other potential suitors are also viewing his outspokenness as a red flag.

Brown’s latest Twitter outburst included shots at coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which jibes with reports of serious friction between Brown and key team figures in recent months.

No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect!” Brown said, on Twitter. “He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth.”

Over the past 40-plus days, Brown has requested a trade and been involved in a domestic dispute. Meanwhile, he’s denied any wrongdoing in connection with the incident.

Here’s more from King’s column:

  • King is skeptical of the Texans reaching a long-term deal with Jadeveon Clowney this offseason because he’s “not as hard of worker bee some others on that defense are.” However, that could change if Clowney receives the franchise tag and proves himself in 2019. Clowney recently earned a payment of $1.005MM to resolve a dispute over the position designation for his fifth-year option, so he’d earn roughly $17.3MM under the terms of the tag.
  • The Raiders have three first-round picks and there has been speculation that they could target a quarterback early in the draft, despite the presence Derek Carr. The Raiders, King hears, are fascinated with Murray. If that’s the case, he wonders whether Oakland might flip Carr to to the Jaguars, Dolphins, or Redskins and select the Oklahoma star. If that happens, Murray could wind up playing his first home games on the field of the Oakland A’s.

Latest On Antonio Brown, Steelers

We learned yesterday that Steelers owner Art Rooney II and All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown will sit down to clear the air in Florida. We now know that meeting is expected to happen next week, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler writes

Brown hasn’t been shy about his desire to be traded this offseason, and just recently the star wideout took to Twitter to answer questions about his relationship with the team, coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It marks the latest in a long line of headline-grabbing actions from the receiver in 2019, who in addition to requesting a trade, was also involved in a domestic dispute in January.

Should the Steelers emerge from the meeting with Brown determined to trade him, they will unsurprisingly look to move him to an NFC team first, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes. It has been reported that Brown desires to play in San Francisco, while teams like the Cardinals, Jets and Raiders have emerged as teams expected to be in the running for his services. It is unlikely that a team would trade a first-round pick for the veteran receiver, who is owed $36.5MM over the next three season, but a team could be willing to part with a second- or third-round selection. Bouchette notes that trade talks are expected to commence at the NFL Combine, which begins in less than two weeks.

Despite the tumultuous end to the season and beginning of the offseason, Brown is undoubtedly still at the top of his game. The 30-year-old widoeut earned his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl selection in 2018, finishing with 104 catches, 1,297 yards and a league-leading and career-high 15 touchdown receptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Antonio Brown Discusses Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger, Contract

After it was revealed Antonio Brown would meet with Steelers owner Art Rooney II, the mercurial superstar took several shots at the organization on Saturday in attempting to explain the reasoning for wanting to be traded.

Answering a few questions from Twitter users, Brown addressed his issue with Mike Tomlin. Their relationship sustained a significant setback in Week 17, when a Brown practice dust-up led to a season-finale deactivation. They are not believed to have spoken since.

After the coach tell the team I quit while nursing some bumps then invite me to watch the show with same guys thinking I quit i can not stand with that!” Brown said, on Twitter (sic). “I’m the bad guy doe we miss post season think about it.”

Prior to reports coming out about the events that led to Brown’s current situation, he appeared on the Steelers’ injury report. During his postseason news conference last month, Tomlin addressed whether or not he believed Brown did quit on his team.

“The bottom line is we were playing a significant game and he didn’t do a good enough job of communicating or being available in the hours leading up to that performance,” Tomlin said in January. “Obviously, there are some things within that you can infer.”

Over the past 40-plus days, Brown has requested a trade and been involved in a domestic dispute. He’s denied any wrongdoing in connection with the incident.

The 31-year-old wide receiver then replied to a question about again wanting a new contract (Twitter link). Brown’s four-year, $68MM deal — the second-highest AAV among receivers — has three seasons remaining. Seeking another new deal, along with the off-field incident, would stand to further limit his market.

Brown’s Saturday salvos also included one at Ben Roethlisberger, even though the receiver said there is not a current conflict between he and his longtime quarterback. Roethlisberger criticized Brown during an in-season radio interview, and although Brown denied in the moment he was miffed about it, he voiced frustration about it now.

No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect!” Brown said, on Twitter. “He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth.”

Brown did also confirm he does plan to meet with Rooney (Twitter link). As has been the case throughout the offseason, much more will surely come from this ongoing saga.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Brown, Brady, Bills, Jets

The Antonio Brown saga continued today with a new dose of drama. The All-Pro receiver liked several tweets referencing past accusations of sexual assault against Ben Roethlisberger, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. The team has attempted to calm tempers and dial things back the past couple of weeks, but Brown has only gotten more aggressive in his demands to leave the team.

It had looked for a while recently like a reunion between the two sides was a real possibility, but actions like this are making those chances seem slimmer by the second. Roethlisberger isn’t going anywhere, and an argument between Brown and his longtime quarterback is apparently what sparked all of this back in Week 17. Crazier things have happened, but even though Brown will reportedly meet with Steelers owner Art Rooney soon, it still seems like a trade is inevitable.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Tom Brady has famously taken somewhat of a discount on his contracts to help the Patriots build winning teams around him, and he’s in line for another new contract soon. The 41-year-old plans to keep playing until he’s 45, and is heading into the final year of his current deal in 2019. Former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry took a look at what an extension for Brady might look like, and what type of discount he might be willing to take this time around. Corry writes that it’s “extremely unlikely Brady will exploit his leverage” in negotiations, and that it’s only a “matter of how big of a discount he’ll give the Patriots.”
  • Speaking of the AFC East, two of the Patriots’ longtime rivals will be in position to make some major moves this offseason if they want to. The Bills “top the list of expected spenders with what should be close to $89 million to spend on free agents” this offseason, while the Jets are in second place “with about $88 million”, writes cap expert Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com. The Jets and general manager Mike Maccagnan haven’t been shy about their desire to make a splash in free agency, while Buffalo will likely be much more conservative. New York has been frequently mentioned as a potential landing spot for Le’Veon Bell, and it’ll be very interesting to see what they do with all that money.
  • In case you missed it, former Jets offensive coordinator John Morton resurfaced with the Raiders yesterday.

Latest On Antonio Brown

Steelers owner Art Rooney II and wide receiver Antonio Brown will meet in Florida in an effort to clear the air, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. Initially, Brown was hesitant to meet, but this could be a big step towards reconciliation for the two sides. 

Brown has not been bashful about airing his grievances in public and has let the world know that he wants a trade. If things can’t be worked out quickly, trade discussions could ramp up during the draft combine period in Indianapolis.

The Steelers are reluctant to trade Brown because he is one of the game’s best wide receivers and dealing him would result in a major dead money cap charge. Meanwhile, word on the street is that they are unlikely to even fetch a first-round pick for him.

Of course, Brown has not done himself any favors by saying he wants a new deal if traded. The Steelers have lost a great deal of leverage over the past couple of months thanks to Brown’s outspokenness and the Steelers proved their mettle last year when they held their ground in the Le’Veon Bell standoff. Ultimately, the Steelers may be willing to play a game of chicken with Brown until he’s willing to mend fences with Ben RoethlisbergerMike Tomlin, and other key figures in the organization.

One way or another, we should have a resolution by March 17, when Brown is due a $2.5MM roster bonus. If he is still on the Steelers’ roster on March 18, then he is likely to still be on it come Week 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Brown, Crowell, Pats, Broncos

Although Joe Flacco interrupted Antonio Brown‘s run as the NFL news cycle’s offseason centerpiece, the Steelers‘ drama with their superstar wide receiver remains the league’s top storyline. After Brown’s trade request, NFL executives believe there may be a significant gap between what the Steelers want to part ways with Brown (and take on a sizable dead-money chunk) and what other teams will pay. One NFL GM believes Pittsburgh, regardless of Brown’s age (31 in July) and off-field trouble, will still want a first-rounder, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. Two other high-ranking execs said, via Fowler, Brown could fetch a Day 2 draft choice, while another predicted a fourth-round pick. Collecting a third- or fourth-round pick for a four-time All-Pro, while taking on more than $20MM in dead money, would be an incredible pill for the Steelers to swallow.

One team that may want Brown may not be able to acquire him, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeting the Steelers will not trade him to the Patriots in addition to having a predictable stance on an intra-AFC North trade.

Free agency is less than a month away, but teams are making moves in preparation. Here is the latest on this front, along with other AFC news:

  • Already pushing $100MM in cap space, the Jets may move closer to triple digits soon. They plan to release Isaiah Crowell once they agree to terms with a veteran running back, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. Such a release would clear $3MM off New York’s cap. The Jets have been the team most linked to preparing for a Le’Veon Bell run, and Mehta adds Tevin Coleman would be a nice consolation prize. While Crowell signed a three-year, $12MM deal, the Jets would only be on the hook for the remaining $2MM of his signing bonus.
  • With several free agents at wide receiver, the Patriots‘ pass-catching corps is likely to look considerably different next season. However, if Josh Gordon is somehow reinstated, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe expects the RFA to be back in New England (Twitter link). But the Patriots obviously cannot count on that happening. Additionally, the Patriots are not, in fact, paying for Gordon’s rehab. The NFLPA is doing so, Volin adds.
  • Under Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens have been known to prioritize compensatory picks. They may be ready to collect another prime end-of-round draft choice this year. Za’Darius Smith‘s free agency buzz reminds The Athletic’s Jeff Zreibec of what followed Pernell McPhee four years ago as he readied for the market. McPhee left for a big Bears offer. A contract-year wonder, Smith looks headed elsewhere, too, per Zreibec (subscription required), with the Ravens prioritizing four-time Pro Bowler C.J. Mosley and possible skill-position enhancements. Baltimore is about to lose $16MM via its Flacco trade, and it presently holds just $21MM in cap space. So adjustments will need to occur if these roster-bolstering hopes are to be realized.
  • Brandon Marshall is open to restructuring his contract to stay with the Broncos, Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic notes (subscription required), but Denver may be set to move on after a six-season partnership. The Broncos re-signed Todd Davis last year and like 2018 fourth-round pick Josey Jewell, who started several games for an injured Marshall last season and would be a cheaper alternative. Denver would save $5MM by releasing Marshall while also being tagged with $4MM in cap charges. A Super Bowl 50 starter, Marshall played all 16 games in 2017 but missed five in both 2016 and ’18.

Steelers Unlikely To Get First-Round Pick For Antonio Brown?

Steelers star wideout Antonio Brown tweeted a farewell to Pittsburgh fans today, which once again worked the football world into a frenzy. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, though, says that outside of the tweet, there have been no major developments in this saga (video link). Indeed, a report earlier this month indicated that Brown had reiterated his prior trade demand, and the substance of that report remains valid. Brown’s camp has not gone back to the Steelers to yet again reaffirm his desire for a fresh start, and the Steelers have still not given Brown and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, permission to seek a trade on their own.

But Brown’s goodbye certainly seems to suggest that there is no going back now, and that Pittsburgh will end up trading him and giving him the fresh start he is seeking (although Rapoport is clear that the Steelers continue to hold all the cards and do not have to cede to Brown’s demands). But assuming the Steelers do end up moving him, what can they expect in return?

The team understandably wants to net at least a first-round draft pick in any Brown trade, but in a separate interview, Rapoport suggests that a second-round pick may be more plausible (video link). After all, the acquiring team would probably need to give Brown a new contract, which will surely be an expensive proposition, and his alleged involvement in a domestic dispute — not to mention the fact that he does not look like a positive clubhouse presence at the moment — could impact the Steelers’ return.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, who describes Brown’s deteriorating relationship with the Steelers in excellent detail, also said Pittsburgh may have to settle for a second- or third-round selection (or even a fourth-rounder, depending on the results of the league’s investigation into the domestic dispute).

Veteran NFL reporter Ed Werder believes the Steelers — assuming they have comparable offers from multiple clubs on the table — will deal Brown to the team that he is least likely to succeed with and that cannot hurt the Steelers, which would be reminiscent of what the Packers did when they traded Brett Favre to the Jets (Twitter link). At the very least, Pittsburgh wants to ship Brown to the NFC, and NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco says that the 49ers — who are apparently Brown’s preferred destination — have internally discussed the idea of acquiring him.

But Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette suggests (via Twitter) that Brown has not done himself any favors by saying he wants a new deal if traded. As indicated above, his contract demands could scare some teams away, as part of the appeal in trading for Brown is his cap-friendly deal.

One way or another, we should have a resolution by March 17, when Brown is due a $2.5MM roster bonus. If he is still on the Steelers’ roster on March 18, then he is likely to still be on it come Week 1.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.