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Where Will Antonio Brown Go If He Leaves the Steelers?

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
6 min read

For the last nine seasons, wide receiver Antonio Brown has played professional football for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but from the looks of it, that’s about to change.

Early this week on both Twitter and Instagram, Brown thanked the SteelerNation for his time there and then said the words that he’d been hinting at for a while with his behavior and his attitude:

“Time to move on and forward…”

Of course, it’s not the first time Brown has hinted at his three-rivers of unhappiness, but with such an obvious relocation statement now out there, we thought we would answer some FAQs about the situation and investigate who’s most likely to sign on next for Antonio Brown’s All-About-Me show.

What happened between Antonio Brown and the Steelers?

Tension between the two sides has been ongoing ever since Brown’s star began to shine early on in his career.

Brown became notorious for his diva behavior, like being routinely late for team meetings and games, as well as alienating behavior, like living “off campus” during training camp, meaning away from his ‘slumming’ teammates and in the comfort he could obviously afford.

Except Brown so frequently delivered the goods on Sundays that the Steelers’ leadership and most teammates tended to look the other way whenever he demanded special treatment.

Is Brown really that good?

Yes, he’s arguably the best wide receiver in the game right now, and many experts agree.

For the 2018 season, Brown caught 104 balls for 1,297 yards and a league-leading 15 touchdowns, averaging 12.5 yards per catch, his longest 78-yard touchdown reception in Week 11 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

He’s had five straight seasons of 100+ receptions and 1200+ yards, with a total of 52 touchdowns to go with that.

Out of the 412 targets Brown has seen over the past three seasons, he has just eight drops and has become known for the precision of his route-running and his ability to explode after the catch.

What are Brown’s career highlights and awards?

Too many to fit here, but here’s a quick sample:

7x Pro Bowl, 4x First-team All-Pro, Second-team All-Pro, 2x NFL receiving yards leader, 2x NFL receptions leader.

In his nine seasons in the NFL, Brown has 837 total receptions, 11,207 total receiving yards, 74 receiving touchdowns, 2,932 total return yards and five return touchdowns.

When did things between Brown and the Steelers begin to crumble?

During the 2018 season, in week two against the Kansas City Chiefs, Brown became obviously agitated with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner on the sidelines and the scene they created was broadcast to a national audience.

Afterward, Brown told the media the outburst was due to “personal reasons” that are between “me and him” and left it at that.

When Brown missed a subsequent team meeting, he was disciplined but still remained in the starting lineup.

What was the straw that finally broke Brown’s back?

The week following that outburst and missed team meeting, a former Steelers staffer wrote a mean tweet about how grateful Brown should be for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s production.

Brown tweeted back to him, “trade me let’s find out.”

Roethlisberger made public critiques of Brown’s route-running after a loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 12 and then Brown was deactivated in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals due to disciplinary issues.

One of Browns’ close associates believes that he’s tired of being blamed for all the Steelers’ problems, the easy scapegoat for a team that’s swimming in more than just his drama, and he wants to prove that he can do well catching balls from any quarterback not named Roethlisberger.

How much money would it cost a team to acquire Brown?

The Steelers would absorb $21.12 million in dead money on their salary cap if they trade Brown before his $2.5 million roster bonus is due on March 17, but that number would increase to $23.62 million if the trade happens later.

As for the team that gets Brown, they’d have to pay him the salaries he’s due according to his current contract:

  • $12.625 million in 2019
  • $11.3 million in 2020
  • $12.5 million in 2021

Brown has no guaranteed money left on his contract.

What could the Steelers get for Brown?

The Steelers have had plenty of time to mull this one over, and there are plenty of scenarios that would benefit the team.

Chances are Brown could bring the Steelers a high draft pick, with one AFC exec saying he believes the Steelers will ask for a first-round pick.

Not a lot to ask for if you’re rewarding Brown for what he has already done, but perhaps too much to ask for given that Brown will soon turn thirty-one years old in a league that values the stamina and potential of youth.

But this season, Brown showed no sign of slowing down his production and his ongoing domination on the field seems to indicate that his value won’t diminish any time soon.

Is it true Brown wants to go to the San Francisco 49ers?

That’s the feeling you get when you see Brown posting photoshopped pictures of himself in a 49ers jersey to his social media accounts.

Hall-of-fame receiver Jerry Rice, himself a 49ers legend, has been pushing to bring Brown to San Francisco, saying:

“If you got a player like [Brown], that you can get that can really add to the offense, you have to go for it.”

Brown and Rice even FaceTime each other, showing the world a budding courtship that seems made in football heaven.

Is Brown always so serious?

Actually, AB is completely capable of taking his mind off the serious business of football and in the past has participated in some offseason television hits that’s helped soften his reputation to the world.

In March of 2016, Brown competed on the hit show Dancing with the Stars and partnered up with professional dancer Sharna Burgess, but they were eliminated during the semifinals of the show and finished fourth place overall.

Three years later (and about a month ago in January 2019), Brown surprised everyone by making an appearance on hit television show The Masked Singer, wearing a Hippo costume and singing “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown, but was eliminated in the first episode.

Do the Steelers have any chance of keeping Brown for 2019?

Strangely enough, the Steelers are the odds on favorites, at least according to most oddsmakers taking bets on the matter.

As you can see below, they’re currently at +150, with the San Francisco 49ers next in line at +285.

If Steelers’ new general manager Kevin Colbert and old head coach Mike Tomlin can somehow figure out how to hang onto Brown for at least one more season, they better prepare themselves for another diva filled year because there’s no way Brown is going to change his egocentric tune this late in the game.

What are the odds on which NFL team Antonio Brown will be on in Week 1 of the 2019 season?

(Odds as of February 12, 2019)

Pittsburgh Steelers +150

San Francisco 49ers +285

Dallas Cowboys +900

Green Bay Packers +900

Buffalo Bills +1200

Arizona Cardinals +1200

Indianapolis Colts +1200

New York Jets +1200

New Orleans Saints +1200

Miami Dolphins +1500

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Mike Lukas

1204 Articles

Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]

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