Antonio Brown to the Raiders
Evan Ferguson, Sports Editor
On Saturday, it was first reported by ESPN that the Pittsburgh Steelers came to a verbal agreement to send star wide-receiver Antonio Brown to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for 3rd and 5th round draft picks. While the saga that’s been a reality TV show it seems for both Brown and the Steelers has reached its finale, only one side is leaving the table happy: Brown. Not only has Brown gotten his wish to be traded, the Raiders have agreed to re-structure his contract as well that will make him the highest paid wideout in the NFL for the time being. While Brown is coming to find the grass truly is greener on the other side, that’s not to say the same for the side in which the Steelers now find themselves on.
The Steelers now will eat $21.1 million of dead money from Brown’s previous contract and also receive only mid-late round picks in exchange for a player that has accumulated over 1,200 yards in each of the last six seasons, the only player in history to do so. The team has essentially been held hostage by Brown since the season ended and he formally requested a trade. While Brown was under contract for the next three seasons, he essentially forced himself out of Pittsburgh by tweeting about the Steelers, going on Instagram live and voicing his complaints and displeasure, leaving the team with no choice but to get rid of him, via trade. Because Brown made his complaints viral, it gave teams in the league leverage over the Steelers in trade negotiations. The organization vowed that Brown would have no say in the negotiations, and rightfully so, however late Thursday night, a report was released that Brown had been traded to the Buffalo Bills, only for that report to be debunked. It is the understanding of multiple sources that Brown was the one who caused the trade to go up in flames, there was in fact a trade in place and an agreement between both teams involved, however Brown was not certain he would get the restructured contract he was looking for, causing the Bills to pull out of negotiations. Brown, again, was running the show. There were a handful of teams interested in Brown, but little wanted to comply with all the various requirements set out by the Steelers and Brown. The Steelers also didn’t help their cause in finding suitors as they had certain teams they would not negotiate with no matter what, due to competitive reasons. Those teams were all of the AFC North, in other words, teams the Steelers play twice a year and compete for division titles against, and the New England Patriots.
This left only a few teams still interested, the Oakland Raiders being one of the teams in negotiations from the beginning. With the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in 2020 and having the money to restructure Brown’s contract, that satisfied all of his desires, leaving only the Steelers to decide if they have their desires satisfied too. Turns out, a 3rd and 5th round pick did just that. Everybody involved, including the Steelers knew Brown was worth more than those picks, but in the end, the organization preferred the situation being over and done with, rather than prolonging it. Had the Steelers waited the situation out until the draft, the team could have used Brown in negotiations to possibly move up in the draft or gain an extra pick. Had the Steelers waited until the end of free agency, they may have had a larger market for the wideout as well, had teams not found the wide receiver they were looking for in free agency, it quite possibly would have left teams desperate, forcing their hand to give more up for Brown. When Brown first requested a trade, Steelers owner Kevin Colbert made it clear the team wanted nothing less than a 1st round pick. The end result shows just how little control the Steelers had in negotiations, and how much power and influence Brown had. The deal is a symbol of how the whole process was from the beginning. The Steelers are now forced to move on and look to free agency and the draft to fill depth at the position Brown held.