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What should the Steelers do with Antonio Brown?

Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. Two of the greatest WRs to ever play in the NFL. They’re also two of the biggest diva WRs in the history of the game. WR Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers might be the next great diva WR. I’m not sure he’s on par with Owens and Moss at this point of his career, but if he’s not, he’s quickly approaching. 

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In Week 17 of the NFL, Antonio Brown once again created drama for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown had an argument with a teammate in practice, which caused him to willingly miss some practice time for the Steelers. After missing practice time and team meetings that week, Brown showed up expecting to play in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Antonio Brown did not play in that game, but instead was on the sideline. That was until he left at halftime…..

Maybe this drama heading into Week 17 had something to do with WR JuJu Smith-Schuster being named the team MVP over Antonio Brown. Maybe it’s because Brown felt like he wasn’t getting the ball enough. It could be he didn’t like the attention Smith-Schuster was getting over him. There have been reports Antonio Brown wanted to prove a point the Steelers would be nothing offensively without him. We may never know exactly what happened heading into Week 17, but this isn’t the first time Antonio Brown has done something like this.

We’ve heard several reports of Brown missing team meetings in the past. If you’ve watched Steelers games, we’ve seen him get mad and frustrated when he’s not getting the ball. Sometimes we’ve even seen him blow up on the sideline. It seems like any little thing could set Brown off at any moment. Sounds just like the drama caused by Terrell Owens and Randy Moss during their careers.

Should the Steelers trade Antonio Brown?

The recent drama surrounding Antonio Brown has led to rumors of the Steelers wanting to trade their star WR. Should they trade him?

Over the past six seasons, Antonio Brown has recorded at least 101 receptions, 1,200+ yards and eight TDs. This season, Brown posted a career high 15 TDs, which led the league. His numbers say future Hall of Famer. How do you trade away his production?

Pittsburgh has a promising young receiver in JuJu Smith-Schuster. He recorded 111 receptions, 1,426 yards and seven TDs in just his second year in the NFL. A case could be made the Steelers would be fine offensively without Brown because they’ll have Smith-Schuster. However, I think this situation could be similar to how the Steelers functioned without RB Le’Veon Bell.

Le’Veon Bell vs James Conner

Without Bell, RB James Conner took over. Conner posted 973 rushing yards and 12 TDs in 13 games played. In addition to his rushing yards, Conner posted 55 receptions for 497 yards and one TD. His total yardage in 13 games was 1,470 with 13 total TDs. In Le’Veon Bell’s last season played with the Steelers, he posted a total of 1,946 yards and 11 TDs in 15 games played.

Based on Conner’s average of 74.8 rushing yards and 38.2 receiving yards per game, he would have finished the season with 1,122 rushing yards, 573 receiving yards and a total of 1,695 yards had he played the same amount of games Le’Veon Bell did in his last season (15). His total yardage would have been just 251 yards less than Bell’s, while his total TDs in 13 games this season are more than Bell last had.

Although Conner produced similar numbers to Le’Veon Bell, something just felt off for the Steelers offensively all season long. I don’t know if I can put my finger on it exactly, but not having Le’Veon Bell changed this offense.

Antonio Brown vs JuJu Smith-Schuster

If the Steelers were to trade away Antonio Brown, their leading receiver would be JuJu Smith-Schuster. Smith-Schuster had a great second season, posting better numbers than Antonio Brown in receptions and receiving yards. While Smith-Schuster had a great season, I don’t think he’d be able to carry the load at the receiver position for the Pittsburgh Steelers at this point in his career.

Antonio Brown recorded 104 receptions, 1,297 yards and 15 TDs this season. If the Steelers traded away Antonio Brown, how would they replace 100+ receptions, 1,200+ yards and 10+ TDs? Let me tell you, it’s not so easy to do. Outside of Brown and Smith-Schuster, the Steelers’ leading receiver in 2018 had 50 receptions for 610 yards and seven TDs. That player was TE Vance McDonald.

The Steelers won’t replace Antonio Brown’s production with a TE. If he’s gone, most of the attention goes to Smith-Schuster. While I like him as a receiver, a lot of his production came because he got one-on-one situations because Antonio Brown was taking on double-coverage. Without Antonio Brown, the Steelers’ offense would only regress.

Terrell Owens and Randy Moss

Despite Brown’s production and Hall of Fame numbers, the Steelers trading him wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen an NFL team move on from a diva WR. Terrell Owens started his career with the San Francisco 49ers. From 2000-2003, Owens posted four straight seasons of at least 80 receptions, 1,100 yards and nine TDs. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles because the 49ers didn’t want to deal with their diva WR anymore.

Randy Moss started his career with the Minnesota Vikings. Starting from his first season in 1998 to 2003, Moss produced at least 69 receptions, 1,200 yards and seven TDs in six straight seasons. His production slipped a bit in 2004, but he still had 700+ yards and 13 TDs. In 2005 he was a member of the Oakland Raiders. Both Owens and Moss were dominant receivers, but their actions and attitudes were detrimental to their teams. Just like these two all-time great WRs, Antonio Brown dominates at the receiver position, but he can be a detriment to his team at times.

Should the Steelers trade Antonio Brown?

I know Antonio Brown has a bad attitude and could potentially make things a whole lot worse for the Steelers than they already are, but I don’t believe trading him is the right move. Again, how are they going to replace his production?

Then there’s the situation with his contract, which could create a whole lot of dead money if he’s moved. You can learn more about that here. It wouldn’t be smart to move Brown’s contract.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to this: We don’t know how long Ben Roethlisberger has left. If the Steelers are trying to win another Super Bowl before Roethlisberger retires, they’re going to need Antonio Brown to be there. Having him one the roster drastically improves their chances of making a Super Bowl run.

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6 Responses

  1. I agree they need him but can be continue to coexist with Big Ben? Their relationship is getting a bit more strained by the day. Juju Smith-Schuster is putting up numbers which is why the drama is building. If they lose two superstars in one season it could be an instant rebuild.

  2. Just realized you followed me. I think that Steelers need to move on from Brown IMO. I do not think they need to rebuild. They have done well drafting. James Connor filled in nicely at RB this year. I think they can get a WR to go along with JuJu

    • Joel Deering says:

      I do agree they’ve done well drafting, but I just don’t know if they can replace Brown’s production with a draft pick.

      • I don’t think they can either. I think if they make a trade, draft a piece or two, and sign a key FA they can fight for a playoff spot.

        Don’t think Tomlin is in for a rebuild.

      • Joel Deering says:

        I doubt he would be too. Maybe the Steelers could trade AB for another receiver who isn’t quite as good, but is still one of the better receivers in the NFL. Not sure who, but it’d be interesting to see.

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