The reason behind the chatter is top-tier wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Long story short: Brown sat out of the Steelers' regular-season finale. At the time, the Steelers listed him as inactive with a knee injury. In the days following Pittsburgh's loss, rumors surfaced that in the days leading up to Week 17, Brown skipped practices and had a dispute with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. As a result, Brown was allegedly benched.
All of this has morphed into speculation about Brown's future. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Brown has not formally asked for a trade:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
My understanding of the situation surrounding #Steelers WR Antonio Brown: As he exited the field in frustration on Wednesday, he yelled, "I’m done!" Then wondered why they don’t trade him. More venting in anger than anything. He has not made any actual trade request, officially.
Dive below into the latest rumors surrounded Brown and others.
Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
A report from NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Saturday morning detailed that "the Steelers are expected to consider trade requests for Brown prior to the start of free agency." Under his contract, Brown will not become a free agent until 2022.
Rapoport outlined Brown's contractual logistics:
"The deadline for a deal would be the $2.5 million roster bonus Brown is due on the third day of the league year. If the Steelers trade him, it would save $1 million in salary cap space (roughly $22 million to keep him, $21 million cap hit to deal him) and create $15 million in cash savings."
It's not Brown's contract situation that's under scrutiny, though. Rather, it's his inability to jell with others inside Pittsburgh's locker room.
Head coach Mike Tomlin recently publicly criticized Brown. When asked whether Brown was acting petulantly, Tomlin entertained the notion. When asked at his end-of-season press conference whether Brown had quit on the team, Tomlin did not in any way defend Brown: "You can describe it in whatever ways you want to describe it, but there was a lack of communication there that can lead to thoughts and things of that nature."
While Tomlin held his press conference, Brown was with former Steeler James Harrison on Instagram. Other social media activity, such as replying to San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle's attempt to recruit him with a starry-eyed emoji, points to Brown suiting up in different colors as soon as next season:
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry has also begun his recruiting process—tweeting out to both Brown and Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, whose future with the franchise is also in question:
Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill, who was drafted No. 8 overall by the Miami Dolphins in 2012, facing questions about his future in Miami is nothing new. What is notable, though, is Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reporting on Thursday that the Dolphins "are expected to explore trading" Tannehill, "who likely won't be back."
"I asked two longtime NFL executives and both said Miami should expect nothing more than a mid-round pick [in return]. One veteran NFL general manager said potentially a fourth-rounder but noted there's a looming complication involving his agent, Pat Dye."
That looming complication is Tannehill's contract.
Tannehill is not set to become a free agent until 2021. Next season, Tannehill is owed $18,725,000, and he's owed $19,497,000 in 2020. That is not appealing to prospective trade partners.
More than that, Tannehill has been injury-prone. The 30-year-old quarterback missed all of 2017 with a torn ACL. This season saw Tannehill miss time with a shoulder injury.
The Dolphins have already parted ways with head coach Adam Gase. The organization is clearly not in a position to drag its feet.
Former NFL Head Coach Bruce Arians
It seems, however, that Arians' time retired as a broadcaster with CBS will be short-lived.
Rumblings first began that Arians would return to coaching when the 66-year-old said during a broadcast in early November that "Cleveland is the only job I would consider" (h/t NFL Network's Nick Shook).
On Saturday, Arians' potential return to the NFL gained steam—only, not in Cleveland. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have interviewed Arians and cited him as the "front-runner" to become Tampa Bay's next head coach:
"Bruce Arians could fix quarterback Jameis Winston and would love to work with general manager Jason Licht. For those reasons, the former Cardinals head coach has been the favorite to fill the Bucs' vacancy and took a big step in that direction Saturday when he came into town and interviewed for the position.
"The Bucs will not owe the Cardinals compensation if they hire Arians. While he retired in 2018, the Cardinals chose not to exercise the club option on Arians' contract for 2019."
The team's official website added fuel to the fire by posted an article titled "5 Things You Need to Know About Bruce Arians" on Saturday afternoon.