Green Bay Packers: Should they trade for Antonio Brown?

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after a 47 yard touchdown reception in the second half during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field on October 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after a 47 yard touchdown reception in the second half during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field on October 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

It would appear that Antonio Brown’s time in Pittsburgh has come to an end, which begs the question, should the Green Bay Packers make a trade offer?

Before week 17 of the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers still had a sliver of hope that they could make the playoffs with a win over their divisional rival the Cincinnati Bengals along with some help from the Cleveland Browns.

Instead of all of the team’s attention focused on the upcoming game, they had to deal with another distraction, this time from star wide receiver, Antonio Brown.

It was reported that on Wednesday’s practice Brown had gotten into a disagreement with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and his frustration continued to mount as he was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report.

This resulted in Brown skipping Saturday’s walkthrough and after being benched for the Steelers season finale against the Bengals, he would end up leaving Heinz Field at halftime.

After his actions in the final week of the season, it had appeared that whatever differences Brown and the Steelers had were irreconcilable. Shortly after the season had concluded, Steelers owner Art Rooney II had some strong words stating, it’s “hard to envision” Brown being in Pittsburgh when training camp rolls around.

While as of today nothing is official, Brown did post on his social media accounts a goodbye message to the fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers as he has put in a trade request.

Antonio Brown will bring some baggage with him where ever he ends up, but he is still a top receiver in this league and would make all 32 teams instantly better. So we have to ask the question, should the Green Bay Packers make a trade offer for Brown?

Wide receiver help

In 2018, this Green Bay Packers offense was far from what we have been accustomed to seeing during the Aaron Rodgers era, and while there was a myriad of reasons for their struggles, some of the blame falls on the wide receiving core.

Outside of Davante Adams who is already a star and will continue to improve, the Green Bay Packers lacked that additional playmaker in the passing game. Randall Cobb is often injured and hasn’t lived up to his contract, while Geronimo Allison ended up on injured reserve last season.

We saw flashes from rookie receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling but often times we saw the disconnect between them and Rodgers as well. We have seen how important trust is between Rodgers and his receivers and for much of 2018, it was lacking with the rookies.

Rodgers had a down year by his standards and by no means is it all because of the receiver play, but that was a part of it. Even if the Green Bay Packers don’t trade for Antonio Brown, acquiring a veteran receiver in free agency should be a priority.

Brown on the field

If the Green Bay Packers traded for Brown, he and Adams would instantly become the best receiving duo in the NFL. Those two coupled with Rodgers at quarterback would be quite scary for opposing defenses.

As impressive as Adams 111 receptions were this season, 2018 marked the sixth consecutive season that Brown has eclipsed the 100 reception mark. He’s also caught double-digit touchdown passes four out of the last five seasons, as well as has averaged 13.4 yards per catch over his career and over 1,400 receiving yards a season since 2011.

Regardless of how you feel about Brown’s actions off of the field, you can’t deny just how impressive he is on it. Although he is a smaller receiver, he has the ability to line up anywhere, can handle any sort of defensive coverage and can make contested catches. Over his career, Brown has caught an incredible 86.2 percent of passes thrown his way.

Off the field concerns

The concern that many teams have with making this trade is the potential locker room disruption that Brown would bring with him.

Brown’s actions in week 17 were not the first time he has caused a distraction, in 2017 he posted a Facebook Live video of head coach Mike Tomlin giving a postgame speech in the locker room and he has drawn criticism from former teammates over the years.

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Ryan Clark of ESPN had said, “this is where Mike Tomlin has to put his foot down and shop Antonio Brown”.

While Emmanuel Sanders has stated “you cannot turn your back on your brothers”, referring to Brown’s week 17 actions and added that what he did was the “ultimate disrespect”.

It is well-known around the league that Brown cares very deeply about his own production and you would have to wonder how he would co-exist with another star receiver in Davante Adams? Just because Brown joins the team, doesn’t mean that he will be made a top priority in the passing game, Adams would get his fair share of production as well.

If General Manager Brian Gutekunst is considering this trade as an option, he must strongly consider what effects Brown will have on this Green Bay Packers team off the field and if he wants to subject his rookie head coach to the potential media circus that will follow.

Brown’s contract

Whichever team makes the trade for Brown, they will be inheriting a contract that will carry hefty salary cap hits.

The original four year, $68 million deal still has three years remaining and carries cap hits of $22.165 million in 2019, $18.34 million in 2020, and $19.54 million in 2021 according to Spotrac.

While Over The Cap has the Green Bay Packers projected at roughly $35.27 million in available cap space for 2019, they have a number of positions to address this offseason and locking up that much of it into a receiver when Adams is already on the roster is a big commitment, as well as a potentially unnecessary one.

Although we haven’t seen any sign of Brown slowing down on the field, he will be 31 before the 2019 season begins and his contract won’t be up until his 33. With Brown playing a position that can have a quick and sudden drop-off, the Green Bay Packers need to be cautious of committing that much money to him at this point in his career.

What will the Packers have to trade?

While the initial cost for Brown may seem high, in January it was reported by Ian Rapaport that several NFL General Managers stated that a second round pick is as high as they would offer.

With the Green Bay Packers having ten draft picks this year, including a second first-round pick from the New Orleans Saints that falls at 30th overall, this is a trade package that they could put together if they desire.

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The thought of Aaron Rodgers lining up in the shotgun formation with Davante Adams and Antonio Brown on opposite sides of him is quite enticing and opposing defenses would be presented with an incredibly difficult matchup.

However, as fun as that is to think about, this move does not make sense for the Green Bay Packers. Given their needs at multiple positions, Brown’s annual salary would be too much to take on. Not to mention the potential locker room concerns that would be associated with him.

Also, let’s not forget that we already have our own number one receiver in Davante Adams.