Antonio Brown Trade to Bills Not Happening, Buffalo GM Says

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2019

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 23: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates a touchdown during the second half against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 23, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Despite reports to the contrary, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Friday morning the team is not trading for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Beane said: "We inquired about Antonio Brown on Tuesday and kept talks open with the Steelers. We had positive discussions, but ultimately it didn't make sense for either side. As great a player as Antonio Brown is, we have moved on, and our focus is on free agency."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Thursday night the Bills were "closing in" on a deal for Brown, but Brown referred to it as "fake news" in responding to an Instagram post by the NFL.

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From our breaking news segment in the wee hours of Friday morning: The #Bills are working to trade for #Steelers WR Antonio Brown. There are things to work out, but the deal is close to being done. https://t.co/gAEf3q8doQ

Early Friday morning, Schefter reported that a trade to Buffalo was "unlikely." He added that a deal wasn't as close as Rapoport initially indicated:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Another source on a potential Antonio Brown-to-Buffalo trade said it will not happen. “I don't think the Bills trade was ever close to happening,” said one source involved in those talks. Steelers snd Bills briefly talked but “this is an old story. It was dead on Wednesday.”

Rapoport then reported the Bills and Steelers engaged in "intense talks" overnight and "almost [got] there on trade compensation" before Buffalo dropped out.

There were several factors that may have played a role, and chief among them is compensation, as it's possible Pittsburgh was asking for the No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 draft. It would have been tough for the Bills to justify moving that pick for a 30-year-old wideout since Buffalo has several holes to fill on both sides of the ball.

Also, there is no guarantee that Brown would have reported to the Bills. Albert Breer of The MMQB reported that Brown "made it clear" he didn't want to go to Buffalo.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero also reported on that possibility, noting Brown could have threatened retirement in the event of a trade to Buffalo:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

As the #Bills and #Steelers close in on a trade for Antonio Brown, one big question remains: Will AB go? He has said he wants a new contract and won't play if it's not by his rules. If Brown wants to blow this up, his weapon is saying he'll retire rather than play in Buffalo.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported that it wasn't about money, adding that Brown was simply "unwilling" to go to Buffalo. He also called the market for Brown "bleak."

Rapoport counted the Green Bay Packers as another team not in on Brown and noted that "many teams" are out of the running.

Brown has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the past six seasons, and he has also reached at least 100 catches for 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns in each of those campaigns. Last season, Brown led the NFL with 15 touchdowns receptions to go along with 104 grabs for 1,297 yards.

Of course, Brown would have provided a huge boost to a Bills offense devoid of a go-to wideout. Last season, second-year man Zay Jones led the Bills with 652 receiving yards, while undrafted rookie Robert Foster was second with 541.

Quarterback Josh Allen needs better targets if he's to make strides in his second season, but Buffalo will have to look toward the draft or free agency to make that happen.


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