Star wide receivers who are in the prime of their careers don’t hit the market very often in the NFL, so when one becomes available many teams jump at the chance to acquire him. Such is the case with Steelers WR Antonio Brown, who has expressed a desire to be traded away from the Steel City, and the Steelers have indicated that they are interested in dealing him. Brown has two years left on his contract before a possible out following the 2021 season.
Even though many teams would be interested in trading for Brown, the Steelers should be careful in deciding which squad to deal him to. The Steelers certainly won’t trade him within the division, and they’d probably prefer to trade him to an NFC team so he’s not in the same conference as them. With that in mind, here are some teams that the Steelers should consider to be potential trading partners for Brown.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have a good young quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, who is coming off of an ACL injury, but they don’t have a star receiver for him to throw to. In fact, their best pass-catcher in 2018 was TE George Kittle. They do have a promising receiver with WR Dante Pettis, who struggled a bit in his rookie year by catching just 60% of his targets, who could improve into a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver as he gains more experience.
The 49ers could be a top receiver like Brown away from competing for a playoff spot. The Steelers are looking for a first-round draft pick for Brown and the 49ers have the No. 2 pick, but they may think that’s too much to give up for the veteran receiver.
The Cardinals are another NFC West team that struggled in the passing game last season. But it was because of a poor rookie campaign by QB Josh Rosen more than being due to injury, as was the case with the 49ers. Outside of WR Larry Fitzgerald, who will be 36 when the 2019 season begins, the Cardinals don’t have a good receiving corps; RB David Johnson had the second-most receptions last season, behind Fitzgerald.
But unlike the 49ers, the Cardinals are likely more than just a good receiver away from being a competitive team. The Cardinals would be unlikely to be willing to give up the overall No. 1 pick to acquire Antonio Brown, especially since they were 3-13 last season and need a lot of help to improve.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks of his generation, but he only has one Super Bowl ring, which is partially due to a lack of strong receivers throughout his career in Green Bay. Adding Antonio Brown could change that.
Davante Adams had a career year in 2018 with 111 catches and 1,386 yards, but that was his first season surpassing the 100-catch and 1,000-yard thresholds, so are those figures repeatable? Whether he can put up those types of numbers again or not, the combination of him and Brown could be the best 1-2 receiving duo Rodgers has had to date in his career.
One thing that makes the Packers an intriguing potential landing spot for Brown is the fact that they have two first-round picks this year, the 12th and 30th overall picks, with the latter coming from the Saints in a trade during last year’s draft. With those two picks in the first round, the Packers may be more willing to give the Steelers the type of draft pick they’re asking for in a trade for Brown.
With the new league year, which is when trades can officially happen, opening on March 13 and the draft a little more than a month later, trade talks for Brown should continue to heat up in the coming weeks.