What Team Will Land Antonio Brown?
Antonio Brown, the NFL’s most productive receiver for the past six years, is up on the trade block. Brown has led the NFL in catches and yards two times and is just coming off a season where he led the league in touchdown catches. He is the only receiver in NFL history with six straight 100-catch seasons and he could fit into any offense in the NFL. Recently, he has been put on the trade block after having problems with Ben Roethlisberger, and many teams will be trying to acquire him. We’re going to look at five teams that will try to acquire him.
The Raiders are a team that are in desperate need of a No. 1 wide receiver. Their former top wide receiver, Amari Cooper, was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for a first-round pick back in October. While Cooper was pretty good in his time there - he had two 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career - he was also inconsistent at times, hich is one of the reasons the Raiders traded him in the first place. The Raiders haven’t had elite production from the wide receiver spot since they had Jerry Rice and Tim Brown. The Raiders top receiver last season was tight end Jared Cook with 896 yards and six touchdowns. Their actual leader at wide receiver was Jordy Nelson, who had 739 yards and just three touchdowns. His best days are clearly far in the past. With Brown on the field, he gives them a legitimate threat that will attract an extra safety and help open the field for players such as Jordy, Seth Roberts and Jalen Richard coming out of the backfield. They will need another threat at wide receiver, but Brown gives them a dynamic wide receiver outside the numbers. He also will give Derek Carr a weapon who is reliable and will always be on the field. Brown has played in at least 15 games in five of the last six seasons. Another thing the Raiders will have is the cap space to absorb his contract. In 2019-2020 season, Brown will be making roughly $22 million, which is far and away the highest amount of money for a wide receiver in the league. The Raiders, however, have the sixth most cap space in the league this offseason.
Of all the teams on this list, the Colts have arguably the most to offer in terms of situation for Brown. They are coming off a season where they won 10 games and made the playoffs; they have an MVP caliber quarterback still in his prime; they are good team that’s still getting better and have weapons already in place that can take the pressure off of him in T.Y. Hilton, Eric Ebron and Marlon Mack, as well as the most cap space in the league. Luck is coming off a season where he threw almost 4,600 yards and 39 touchdowns, as well as leading the fifth-ranked scoring offense in the NFL. These days Luck doesn’t have to throw for 350 for them to win, as he now has a running back in Marlon Mack who rushed for 908 yards in just 12 games. With a full season, he should easily eclipse 1,000 yards next season. With T.Y Hilton on the other side of him as well as a great offensive line, there will be plenty of opportunities for Brown to get the football. This would be the best Colts team to take a field since Peyton Manning was quarterback. If being on a contender is important to him, this will be the perfect team for him since it’s young and upcoming.
San Francisco 49ers
Unlike the first two teams on this list, the Steelers would be sending Brown outside of the conference, so they would only play them once every four years unless they meet in the Superbowl. According to Brown’s social media, his meeting with Art Rooney went well and they’re ending on good terms, so Rooney might be a little more willing to accommodate what Brown wants if he gets a good offer. Brown has shown interest in playing for the 49ers and Jerry Rice has endorsed Brown playing in San Francisco. They certainly have the cap space to acquire him. The 49ers desperately need help on the outside for Jimmy Garoppolo. Last season George Kittle had 1,377 receiving yards, which was almost triple the receiving yards of his next best option, Kendrick Bourne. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan has shown in Atlanta that he can help produce an elite offense when given talent. Acquiring Brown will be the first step in building a team around Garoppolo. They will still need another wide receiver to go along with Kittle and Brown. However, by adding him they have an elite weapon on the outside that can open things for not just Kittle, but also their running back Matt Breida who averaged over five yards a carry in 13 starts. The 49ers are estimated to have over $76 million in cap space this offseason. Even with Brown’s salary, they will still have enough to bring in more pieces in free agency to make their team a lot better.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are another team that needs wide receiver help. They scored a lot of points, third in the league at 31.5 a game, but the only threat that was a receiver on their team was Michael Thomas. He led the team with 1,405 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. That was almost double the yardage of anyone else that caught passes for the Saints this season. The second leading receiver on the team was running back, Alvin Kamara, with 709 yards. They need help on the perimeter for Thomas. They went 13-3 without a real number two wide receiver and were a bad call away from getting to the Superbowl. With Brown on the team, and a defense that was one of the best down the stretch, they would be overwhelming favorites to represent the NFC in the Superbowl next season. With Drew Brees turning 41 during the playoffs next season, the Saints are in win-now mode. Adding Brown to an offense that was third in scoring last season could be the move needed to bring the franchise’s second Superbowl title. The Saints, however, are lacking the cap room in order to bring in Brown, they have a little over $6 million in cap space. So, they would have to move some players to free up enough space to trade for Brown.
The Seahawks haven’t had an elite wide receiver since Steve Largent was in the NFL. The best wide receiver Russell Wilson has had is Doug Baldwin, but he’s never been considered an elite wide receiver, but rather a very good one. This would give Russell Wilson a receiver he’s never had before and with the team they have now, Seattle could make a lot of noise in the playoffs. His top receiver from last year Tyler Lockett, only had 965 receiving yards. Even though Seattle has gone back to the formula that got them back to back Superbowl appearances and a title, which is running the football, it was still obvious that they needed help on the outside. Brown is used to playing with a quarterback who can make plays with his legs in Ben Roethlisberger, so he can fit with Wilson well. Also, with Brown on the perimeter, teams can’t stack the box to stop the run as they’ll probably drop a safety back to help on Brown. The Seahawks have $65 million in cap space this offseason, so there will be a good amount left to get better in other places of need for them. This trade would benefit the Steelers, because they are sending Brown out of not just the division, but the conference as well. The Steelers will probably look outside of the conference first to trade Brown, so if Seattle might be willing to give up their first-round pick or maybe their third rounder and a player, they might be able to acquire Brown. However, Seattle might not be in such a hurry to trade until they figure out what they’re going to do for Frank Clark.
Brown is arguably the best wide receiver in today’s game. Even though he has had some problems with the Steelers for a while, he’s too good for teams not to try and trade for him. After his meeting with Art Rooney this past Tuesday, it’s no longer a question of whether he’ll be traded, but rather when it will happen.
Zachary Smith is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.