Antonio Brown is a member of the Oakland Raiders after an ugly falling out with the Steelers. Pittsburgh sent Oakland/Soon To Be Las Vegas the superstar receiver in exchange for third- and fifth-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
That’s not exactly an impressive haul for arguably the game’s best receiver the past five seasons. The trade made some people look good and bad, and others kinda dumb. These are the winners and losers of Antonio Brown’s departure.
Winner: Antonio Brown.
Brown has done and said everything he’s wanted to since things boiled over before the Steelers’ important Week 17 game against the Bengals. Brown was inactive for the game after a confrontation with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during the week leading up to the game when Brown reportedly threw a ball at Roethlisberger’s feet.
The Steelers still won, but they missed the playoffs, and so began a winter that would end with Brown making demands and getting them fulfilled.
Those demands included a trade, guaranteed money, and to be called Mr. Big Chest.
I’m certainly not calling him Mr. Big Chest, and you probably won’t either. But somebody out there’s going to, I’m sure.
As far as his money goes, Brown ended up getting over $30 million in guaranteed money in his new deal with the Raiders. Previously, he had none.
Chest: big. Money: long.
Winner: Derek Carr, who has a four-time All-Pro receiver to help make him look good.
No need to take a deep dive here:
Winner: The Raiders, but more specifically Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock.
It wasn’t all that long ago when a lot of us were laughing at Gruden for trading Khalil Mack and then complaining about not having a pass rush. What a fun time that was:
Or how the Raiders traded Amari Cooper to the Cowboys, where he went on to prove to still be a promising young receiver with 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games. But the Raiders did get a first-round pick out of it, and now have three in the 2019 NFL Draft.
We’ll get back to those picks here in a hot second, because we need to talk about new GM Mayock, previously the expert of all experts in the NFL’s Underwear Olympics (the combine). I’m not sure that any of us had an idea of how this new gig would go for him, but so far, so good.
Not only did Mayock land one of the NFL’s best receivers, but he had three first-round picks, and didn’t give up a single one. The trade was such a snag that it’s not even possible to complete in Madden:
The Raiders need fresh pieces to help build something sustainable, and Mayock was able to pull a generational talent while not giving up the most important assets to build something that will last. That’s arguably the biggest win of all.
Loser: Steelers GM Kevin Colbert.
Colbert, like Brown, did a lot of talking about the situation, but wasn’t able to back up a lot of what he said.
On Feb. 20, he stuck his chest out about the team’s demands (with LOLs bolded):
“We’re open to shopping around the league to see what may be available in exchange for your services, by no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to the Pittsburgh Steelers organization. Specifically, we will not be discounting you on the trade market, and we certainly will not be releasing you.
All that being said, we’ll take a positive approach. If someone has a sincere interest and they want to make a move — either a significant draft pick, or a set of picks, or a significant player plus picks — and we think it will benefit the Pittsburgh Steelers in the long run, then we’re all in. If not, then we’ll make that decision at that point.”
I don’t think the haul — third- and fifth-round picks in the 2019 draft — was what Colbert had in mind. For perspective:
Last year, the Raiders sent a third-round pick to Pittsburgh for Martavis Bryant; this year, they'll send a three and a five for Antonio Brown.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 10, 2019
The day after he confidently stated the Steelers’ intentions, Colbert oddly said Roethlisberger had “52 kids under him” in reference to the rest of the players on the Steelers’ roster. He also said that “if our players were smart, they’d listen to him” when he called them out.
Because crapping on essentially every player on your roster is definitely a good play, and won’t make anybody dislike him.
Colbert lost the trade, and maybe guys in the locker room.
Loser: The cap punch to the face the Steelers are taking.
This is a lot of dead bread:
Antonio Brown is gone from Pittsburgh, but not forgotten. Brown will leave the Steelers with a dead-money salary-cap charge of over $21 million this season, thought to be the biggest one-year salary-cap charge in NFL history.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2019
Winner: Players who want to flex their way into better financial situations.
What Brown just accomplished doesn’t happen at all in the NFL, for the most part. It’s arguably something that only generational talents like Brown could really pull off, but it really takes just one to start the trend.
And it appears DeSean Jackson is going to give things a go:
DeSean Jackson has not been officially released. So he's basically ended it himself via that Instagram post. We'll see what happens here.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 11, 2019
Brown and his chest flexed on Colbert and the Steelers.
Loser: The Buffalo Bills.
Winner: You. Me. All of us, really.
It’s not every offseason that we’ve got something exciting going on. This whole ordeal took us to free agency, and now the draft’s right around the corner.
This is like the drama NBA Twitter raves about all the time. NFL fans won’t complain about anything that will curb our appetites to get us closer to the next big thing in the offseason, until we finally have our football again.
Loser: Steelers fans.
It’s a shame that Pittsburgh came away from its Killer Bs (Ben, Bell, Brown) era with no Super Bowl to show for it. Their GM chose an aging quarterback who consistently shits on his teammates over two of the best players at their respective positions.
And while this still very well might end up working out fine for the Steelers, you can’t help but be disappointed they didn’t get more out of these guys. As a Braves fan, I know what it’s like when your team doesn’t win as many titles as it probably should.
On the bright side, James Conner looks promising and JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to be a good receiver in the NFL for a while. Those guys were also second- and third-round draft picks, and Brown was a sixth. So maybe the Steelers make the picks in this trade count.
If they don’t do a good job of replacing Roethlisberger in the future, that’s when you should probably sweat.