Antonio Brown Trade Rumors: Steelers Want WR in NFC for 'Competitive Reasons'

Megan ArmstrongContributor IFebruary 22, 2019

CHARLOTTE, NC - FEBRUARY 17: NFL player, Antonio Brown smiles and laughs during the 2019 NBA All-Star Game on February 17, 2019 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Tom O'Connor/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are giving in to the trade demand of wide receiver Antonio Brown and are now trying to minimize the damage he could cause them on an opposing team.

Brown may have been the one to initiate the divorce by requesting a trade and publicly bidding farewell to Steelers Nation, but the Steelers hold the final say as the 30-year-old receiver is still under team control through 2021.

ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler reported on Friday the Steelers' initial parameters for dealing Brown:

"The team would prefer to send Brown to an NFC team for competitive reasons, a source told ESPN. The New England Patriots and AFC North rivals are considered no-trade zones, and the Steelers would rather see Brown affect wins and losses in another conference, if possible."

Fowler also quotes Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, who spoke to local media on Wednesday: 

"When you're trading away a player like this who could determine your own record and your own Super Bowl potential, of course you want to not trade him to teams that might be a factor. But if those teams step up and say, 'Look, we'll give you the best picks or the best players,' then we'll have to make that judgment. 

"So will we be selective? It depends on what the compensation is."

This comes just days after Steelers owner Art Rooney II wanted to meet with Brown in hopes of clearing the air. The two did meet, but Brown tweeted afterward that both were in agreement that "it is time to move on."

Prior to that, Brown took to Twitter to air some dirty laundry—accepting questions from fans. One fan asked Brown what caused the conflict between him and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, to which Brown replied:

"No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a[n] owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can't say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It's a dirty game within a game."

Brown and Roethlisberger clashed at a practice prior to the Steelers' regular-season finale, causing Brown to skip practices, and Brown was subsequently benched. Since then, Brown has been very open about his desire to play elsewhere.

Brown told his Instagram followers during an Instagram Live video this week what he's looking for on his new team: 

"If you one of those teams out there where the camaraderie bad, the energy bad, the players [are] haters, I don't want to play there. I don't want to go there. I don't want to waste no time." 

Business may be boomin' as far as the market for Brown goes, but the Steelers ultimately get to put their own business before Brown's. NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported earlier on Friday that Colbert named three teams that have reached out about a potential Brown trade.

The San Francisco 49ers have been heavily linked to Brown since the end of the 2018 regular season, with Hall of Fame wide receiver and 49ers legend Jerry Rice saying on 95.7 The Game that Brown wants to play in the Bay "really bad." 

Several current Niners have also recruited Brown.

Now knowing that the Steelers prefer to deal Brown to the NFC, and considering San Francisco is over 2,500 miles away from Pittsburgh, Brown may get exactly what he wants. However, Colbert told Pelissero, "If it doesn't benefit us, we won't do it." 

Brown has spent his entire career in Pittsburgh since 2010 when the franchise drafted him in the sixth round.

 

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